Born Vostanig Adolan in Turkish Armenia. In 1920 he went to the US and assumed his new name adopted from his admiration of the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. In 1920-22 studied at Rhode Island School of Design and later, in 1923-24 taught at the New School of Design in Boston. At first, he was influenced by Cézanne. In the 1930s he achieved his first public success - producing a large abstract mural painting for Newark Airport. Other influences came from the surrealist painters and poets who came to New York as exiles from the war in Europe. Surrealism's aspect of automatism, the unconscious and the erotic, sent him onto a new path. In the beginning of the forties he worked with luminous grounds and calligraphic lines. He had a fundamental role in the development of Abstract Expressionism in America and influenced painters of this movement. He commited suicide in 1948.