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Adolph Gottlieb


Floating

1945

Untitled

1965
 


Adolph Gottlieb was born March 14, 1903, in New York. He studied at the Art Students League with John Sloan and Robert Henri in 1920. During a two-year period in Europe from 1921 to 1923 he attended the Academic de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, and other studio schools and traveled to Berlin and Munich. Returning to New York in 1923, Gottlieb subsequently finished high school and studied at Parsons School of Design, the Art Students League, where his friendship with Barnett Newman developed, Cooper Union and the Educational Alliance Art School. In 1930 his first one-man show took place at the Dudensing Gallery in New York. His close friendship with Milton Avery and Rothko began in the early thirties. From 1935 to 1940 he exhibited with The Ten, a group of artists devoted to expressionist and abstract painting. In 1936 Gottlieb worked in the easel division of the WPA Federal Art Project; the next year he moved to the desert near Tucson, Arizona. He returned to New York in 1939 and spent the summers from 1939 to 1946 in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

By 1941 Gottlieb had painted his first pictographs— compositions divided into irregular grids, each compartment of which is filled with archetypal, mythic and symbolic images. Continuing to express universal themes, in 1951 he began imaginary landscapes in which the field is divided into two horizontal zones: sky, with a number of shapes floating above the horizon, and landscape or sea below. These elements were simplified in the Burst paintings of 1957 to the early 1970s. Here, on large color fields, a disc characteristically hovers above an explosive, calligraphic mass.

Associated with the New York School, Gottlieb exhibited extensively from the 1940s until his death. He was given one-man shows at The Jewish Museum, New York, in 1957, and at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1963; the latter exhibition was presented later that same year at the São Paulo Bienal. In 1968 a retrospective of his work was organized jointly by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He spent summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from 1946 until 1960, when he moved to East Hampton, Long Island. Gottlieb died in New York on March 4, 1974.

credits: Hangar Design Group