Adolph Gottlieb (American, 1903 - 1974)
Adolph Gottlieb was a prominent American painter and member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. Characterized by an idiosyncratic use of abstraction that utilized pictographs and mythological symbols, his works achieved an emotional intensity through both color and line. “Today when our aspirations have been reduced to a desperate attempt to escape from evil, and times are out of joint, our obsessive, subterranean and pictographic images are the expression of the neurosis which is our reality,” he once reflected. “To my mind certain so-called abstraction is not abstraction at all. On the contrary, it is the realism of our time.” Born on March 14, 1903, in New York, NY, he studied from 1920 until 1921 at the Art Students League of New York. Entering into a milieu of painters that included Mark Rothko and Lou Schanker, Gottlieb like Rothko began producing works which were influenced by the stylized figuration of Milton Avery. Interested in Surrealism, Gottlieb’s work became more abstract as it incorporated ideas such as automatic drawing and the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung into his practice. By the 1960s, he began producing some of his most famous works, collectively known as the Burst Paintings, the common motif of these works is a sun-like orb hovering above calligraphic marks. The artist died on March 4, 1974 in New York, NY, and in accordance to his wishes, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation was formed in 1976, offering grants to visual artists. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, among others.