Arshile Gorky

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Gorky was born Vostanik Manuk Adoian on April 15, 1904, in the village of Khorgom, situated on the shores of Lake Van in the Ottoman Empire. In later years he was vague about his date of birth, changing it from year to year. In 1908 his father emigrated to America to avoid the draft, leaving his family behind in the town of Van. In 1915 Gorky fled Lake Van during the Armenian Genocide and escaped with his mother and his three sisters into Russian-controlled territory. In the aftermath of the genocide, Gorky’s mother died of starvation in Yerevan in 1919. Arriving in America in 1920, the 16-year old Gorky was reunited with his father, but they never grew close. In the process of reinventing his identity, he changed his name to “Arshile Gorky”, claiming to be a Georgian noble (taking the Georgian name Arshile/Archil), and even telling people he was a relative of the Russian writer Maxim Gorky.

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