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Adolph Gottlieb

Vertical Moves: The Paintings of Adolph Gottlieb

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. Pace Gallery has represented Gottlieb's estate since 2001.

Press Release

  • Vertical Moves: The Paintings of Adolph Gottlieb
    PaceWildenstein is pleased to present its first exhibition of work from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation on view from May 2 through June 21, 2002 at 32 East 57th Street, New York City. The exhibition will feature a selection of small, medium and large-scale vertical format paintings that Adolph Gottlieb created in the years spanning 1956 and 1973. The first of Gottlieb’s signature “Burst” paintings, Black, Blue, Red (1956), will be included in the exhibition as well as a series of nine small, untitled canvases he created in 1968 that reveal Gottlieb’s interest in exploring new color relationships. A full-color catalogue with an essay by Elizabeth Frank will accompany the exhibition. Sensitive to the interaction between a painting’s scale and its planar orientation—and their combined impact on the viewer—Gottlieb deftly balanced modernism’s formal concerns with his own belief in the emotive potential of painting. Committed to creating paintings that were intimate and grand, timely and timeless, Gottlieb combined Abstract Expressionist dynamism with Classical restraint. Elizabeth Frank observes: “The vertical paintings, in the end, are a summary of Gottlieb’s commitment to his métier as well as a testament to the rich painting culture within which his life as an artist finds its meaning and achievement…Gottlieb had the courage to affirm painting in a century during which it was testing its limits and questioning its premises. Through him painting comes out on the other side of its self-interrogation refreshed and renewed, fully connected to its past, fully capable of visual statement both concrete and sublime.” Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) attended lectures by Robert Henri and studied painting under John Sloan at the Art Students League (New York); he also attended sketch classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière (Paris), the Parsons School of Design and Cooper Union (New York). Gottlieb participated in his first group exhibition in 1926 and four years later enjoyed his first solo show in New York City. Early in his career, Gottlieb became a founding member of “The Ten,” a group of artists devoted to expressionist and abstract painting, and 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 Grand Premio at the 1963 Bienal de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Gottlieb received numerous 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 with a retrospective exhibition in 1968 that was the first and only exhibition organized jointly by—and simultaneously exhibited at—the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York). Most recently the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation organized Adolph Gottlieb: A Survey, a traveling 2001 exhibition with venues including IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez (Valencia, Spain), Fundacion Juan March (Madrid, Spain), and the Von der Heydt Museum (Wuppertal, Germany). Gottlieb’s work belongs to numerous U.S. and international public collections including: the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Nationalgalerie (Berlin), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), The Tate Gallery (London), The Tel Aviv Museum (Tel Aviv), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York). A selection of Gottlieb prints—including screenprints, etchings and lithographs from the late 1930s through the mid-1970s—will be on view at Pace Prints concurrent with PaceWildenstein’s exhibition. Images are available upon request.



Elizabeth Frank

2002. Pace Wildenstein. Paperback

46 pages: 19 color illustrations



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