Born in New York, Adolph Gottlieb studied at the Art Students League, the Parson’s School of Design and the Cooper Union Institute. He traveled throughout Europe in the early 1920s, studying both classical and modern art. As one of the founding members of the New York School, he began exhibiting his work in 1930. From 1935-1940 exhibited with his friends, Ilya Bolotowsky, Mark Rothko and William Baziotes as part of “The Ten” while also working for the WPA. His early work was influenced by Milton Avery, the Surrealist, and the writings of Freud. Beginning in 1941 he began painting “pictographs” which incorporated biomorphic abstractions inspired by archetypal imagery drawn from the subconscious. In 1945 and 1946, he was the first of the New York School to be collected by the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art. In the 1950s, he developed a series of “Imaginary Landscape” and “Burst” paintings that simplified his iconography to shaped discs and undulating lines. During the 1960s, he experimented with three-dimensional work and produced 42 sculptures. In 1968, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum in New York joined forces in putting together a massive retrospective that filled both museums with Gottlieb’s work. Highly celebrated during his lifetime, Gottlieb had 56 solo exhibitions and was included in more than 200 group exhibitions. Over 140 international museums currently collect his work.
Adolph Gottlieb in his 23rd St studio, 1965.
Photo: Marvin Lazarus © Roberta Fast Lazarus