Skip to main content

Pace Galleries

Cart icon

Adolph Gottlieb

Pictographs 1941–1951

About Adolph Gottlieb

Adolph Gottlieb (b. 1903, New York; d. 1974, New York) worked his passage to Europe when he was seventeen, after studying briefly at The Art Students League. He spent six months in Paris visiting the Louvre every day and auditing classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Gottlieb made his solo debut in 1930. In 1935, he became a founding member of “The Ten,” a group of artists devoted to expressionist and abstract painting. Eight years later, he would become a founding member of another group of abstract painters, “The New York Artist Painters,” that included Mark Rothko, John Graham, and George L. K. Morris. In 1943, Gottlieb co-authored and published a letter with Rothko in The New York Times, expressing what is now considered to be the first formal statement of the concerns of the Abstract Expressionist artists.

Press Release

  • Adolph Gottlieb: Pictographs 1941-1951
    The first exhibition in ten years devoted to the Pictographs of Adolph Gottlieb (American, 1903-1974) will be on view at PaceWildenstein, 32 East 57th Street, New York from October 29 through December 23, 2004. An opening will be held on Thursday, October 28th from 6-8 p.m. Adolph Gottlieb: Pictographs 1941-1951, organized in conjunction with the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc., is an exhibition of over 30 oil paintings executed during that seminal decade. These works, on loan from the Foundation as well as major public collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, are reunited for the first time since 1994 when The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. organized an exhibition devoted to the series. The exhibition traveled to the Portland Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Arkansas Arts Center, Littlerock. Adolph Gottlieb: Pictographs 1941-1951, will be accompanied by a full color catalogue with an essay “Starting with Oedipus: Originality and Influence in Gottlieb’s Pictographs” by Dr. Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. Discussing the Pictographs’ compositional grid structure and its components, Dr. Cooper writes, “What Gottlieb invented in the Pictographs was a machine to process the most diverse sources into a nonhierarchical, decentralized array – a cultural leveling device, a destroyer of distinctions.” Although the incorporation of the grid has been seen before from Attic Vase painting to Mondrian’s paintings, Gottlieb’s Pictographs differ in the artist’s arbitrary use of choice and imagery. Gottlieb explained the organization of images in his Pictographs by stating, “I don’t want to control the imagery, and I set up a system on the canvas whereby I could let unrelated images appear next to each other.” This break-through was one of the pivotal steps that allowed the artists of the New York School to make the leap into Abstract Expressionism. Raised in New York City, Adolph Gottlieb (b. 1903, New York, NY – d. 1974, New York, NY) studied painting under John Sloan and attended lectures by Robert Henri at the Art Students League, NY (1920); he also attended sketch classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris and continued his studies in New York at Parsons School of Design, Cooper Union, and the Educational Alliance Art School. Gottlieb participated in his first group exhibition in 1926 and had his first solo show at Dudensing Galleries in New York City in 1930. Early in his career, Gottlieb became a founding member of “The Ten,” a group of artists devoted to Expressionist and Abstract painting, and he began friendships with Milton Avery, Barnet Newman and David Smith. Gottlieb was also a founding member of “The New York Artist Painters,” a group of abstract painters established in 1943 including Mark Rothko, John Graham and George Constant. That same year, Gottlieb co-authored a letter with Rothko published in The New York Times which was the first formal statement of concerns of the Abstract Expressionist artists. The first American recipient of the Gran Premio at the 1963 Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gottlieb received numerous other accolades such as the American Academy of Achievement award (1965) and election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1971). In 1959, Gottlieb was invited to exhibit at Documenta II (Kassel) and was honored in New York City with a 1968 retrospective that was the first and only exhibition organized jointly by—and simultaneously exhibited at—The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Most recently the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation organized Adolph Gottlieb: A Survey, an exhibition that traveled in 2001 to venues including IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia; Fundacion Juan March, Madrid; the Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany; and The Jewish Museum, New York. Gottlieb’s work belongs to numerous U.S. and international public collections including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Institute of Chicago; Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; The Tel Aviv Museum; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.



Harry Cooper

2004. PaceWildenstein. Paperback

80 pages: 41 color illustrations; 10 ½ x 9 inches



Add to Cart