Tuesday Art ATTACK- Adolph Gottlieb "The Alchemist (1945)"

Adolph Gottlieb was born on March 14th in 1903 in New York City. He attended high school at the Art Students League of New York for one year (1920-1921) before deciding to leave school and work his way to Europe on a merchant ship. In Europe traveled through Germany and France for a year. While in France he lived in Paris for six months. During his stay in Paris he visited the Louvre Museum everyday and snuck into classes at the Académie. Gottlieb then took a second year abroad and traveled through Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other countries in central Europe. Returning home to New York City two years later he was one of the best traveled artists in the city. Upon his return home Gottlieb studied at the Parsons School of Design along with Cooper Union. 

Gottlieb was a member of the first generation abstract expressionists school that took over New York in the early 20th century. He had his first solo show at the Dudensing in New York city in 1930. In 1937 Gottlieb moved to Arizona. While in Arizona his approach shifted from an impressionistic style to a more surrealism style combined with a formal abstraction. Returning to New York a year later his new direction was received rather poorly and he was annexed for a short period of time for being too abstract.

Beginning to take interest in the subconscious and human communication Gottlieb began painting pictograph type paintings inspired by Native American art and art of the Near East. These works were very basic elemental paintings trying to achieve a meaning within the viewer. The basic forms used in the paintings were not observed by Gottlieb but derived completely form his subconscious. This subconscious imagery led into the painting of imaginary landscapes and then finally to Gottlieb's "Burst" approach.

In the 1960's Gottlieb began painting large bursts of color inter tangled with arranged linear masses in different ways, reminiscent of landscaper paintings. This new body of work of his became known at the "Burst" series. In this series color and symbolism became even more important to the artist. In 1967, in the middle of getting his body of work ready for his exhibit at the Whitney and Guggenheim museum he began small sculptural experiments. These small sculptures launched him into a 1 year sculpture frenzy saying it made him feel like a newly realized artist. After that one year he had 42 large scale finished sculptures, lost his luster for sculpture and returned to his "Burst" paintings.

Gottlieb remained to work on his paintings through the 1960's and became the first American Artists to win the Gran Premio of the São Paulo award in Brazil. In 1968 both the Guggenheim and the Whitney museums held massive retrospectives for the artist including his paintings and sculptures. In 1970 he suffered from a stroke leaving him partially paralyzed but he still continued to make art until his death in March of 1974.

By Christian Franzen

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