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Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)


Adolph Gottlieb (ur. 14 marca 1903, zm. 3 marca 1974) – amerykański malarz, przedstawiciel ekspresjonizmu abstrakcyjnego.

Urodził się w Nowym Jorku. Studiował w Nowym Jorku (m.in. pod kierunkiem Johna Sloana) oraz w Paryżu.

W 1935 współzakładał grupę The Ten (Dziesiątka), zajmującą się malarstwem abstrakcyjnym i ekspresjonistycznym. Rok później poprzez organizację Works Progress Administration, zajmującą się zatrudnianiem bezrobotnych, zaangażował się w tzw. Federal Art Project (projekt wykorzystujący bezrobotnych artystów do tworzenia tzw. sztuki publicznej - plakatów, malowideł ściennych i obrazów mających ozdabiać miejsca publiczne). Zajmował się tam malarstwem sztalugowym.


W 1939 wygrał krajowy konkurs na malowidło ścienne mające zdobić budynek poczty w Yerrington w stanie Nevada. Dwa lata później rozpoczął pracę nad cyklem "Piktogramy". Pierwszy z obrazów został wystawiony w 1942 na drugiej dorocznej wystawie Federacji Malarzy i Rzeźbiarzy Nowoczesnych w galerii Wildenstein w Nowym Jorku. Pierwsza indywidualna wystawa Gottlieba została otwarta w nowojorskiej Artists Gallery 28 grudnia tego samego roku.

W 1943 Gottlieb wraz z innymi malarzami abstrakcyjnymi, jak m.in. Mark Rothko, John Graham i George Constant, założył stowarzyszenie New York Artist Painters. Wspólnie z M. Rothko wystosował list - manifest twórczy abstrakcyjnych ekspresjonistów opublikowany 13 czerwca w New York Times.


W 1944 został prezesem Federacji Malarzy i Rzeźbiarzy Nowoczesnych - piastował tę funkcję do następnego roku. W 1945 Muzeum Guggenheima kupiło 11 obrazów i jeden gwasz Gottlieba.

W kolejnych latach prace Gottlieba wystawiano wielokrotnie m.in. w Nowym Jorku i Paryżu. Nagradzano go też za osiągnięcia artystyczne.

W 1966 w pożarze zostało doszczętnie zniszczone jego studio. W 1970 po wylewie został lewostronnie sparaliżowany i skazany na życie na wózku inwalidzkim - kontynuował jednak malowanie. Zmarł w Nowym Jorku. (wikipedia)


Born in New York City in 1903. From 1920-1921 he studied at the Art Students League of New York, after which he traveled in France and Germany for a year. Before his skills had fully developed he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. When he returned, he was one of the most traveled New York Artists. In the mid-1930’s, he became a teacher using his acquired technical and art history knowledge to teach while he painted. In 1935 he was a founding member of The Ten, a group devoted to abstract art, and he became a major exponent of Abstract Expressionism whose painting style is linked to Marc Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Barnet Newman. A major theme in his painting was the challenge to humans to resolve dualities within the universe, the pressure of opposites: male and female, chaos and order, creation and destruction, order and chaos.

He was a WPA mural artist and from 1937 to 1939 was in Arizona, which influenced his subsequent "pictograph" series that occupied him the remainder of his life. The pictographs involved grid divisions of the canvas, primitive iconography, and imaginary landscapes. For him, the time in the Arizona desert was a time of transition from expressionist landscapes to highly personal still lifes of simple desert items such as gourds and peppers.


During World War II, Gottlieb encountered exiled Surrealists in New York and they added to and reaffirmed his belief in the subconscious as the well for evocative and universal art. This belief led him to experiment with basic and elemental symbols. The results of his experiments manifested themselves in his series “Pictographs” which spanned from 1941-1950. In his painting Voyager’s Return, he juxtaposes these symbols in compartmentalized spaces. His symbols reflect those of indigenous populations of North America and the Ancient Near East. However, once he found out one of his symbols was not original, he no longer used it. He wanted his symbols to have the same impact on all his viewers, striking a chord not because they had seen it before, but because it was so basic and elemental that it resounded within them.

In the 1950 he began his new series Imaginary Landscapes he retained his usage of a ‘pseudo-language,’ but added the new element of space. He was not painting landscapes in the traditional sense, rather he modified that genre to match his own style of painting. He painted simple figures in the foreground, and simple figures in the background, and the viewer can read the depth.


In his last series Burst which started in 1957, he simplifies his representation down to two shapes discs and winding masses. His paintings are variations with these elements arranged in different ways. This series, unlike the Imaginary Landscape series, suggests a basic landscape with a sun and a ground. On another level, the shapes are so rudimentary; they are not limited to this one interpretation. Gottlieb was a masterful colorist as well and in the Burst series his use of color is particularly crucial. He is considered one of the first color field painters and is one of the forerunners of Lyrical Abstraction.

Gottlieb’s career was marked by the evolution of space and universality. Gottlieb had a stroke in 1970, but continued on with his painting and worked on the Burst series until his death in 1974. In 1976 the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation was formed, offering grants to visual artists. (rogallery)

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