“It seemed that if one wanted to get away from such things as the American scene or social realism and perhaps cubism, [Greek mythology] offered a possibility of a way out, and the hope that given a subject matter that was different, perhaps some new approach to painting…might also develop.” Adolph Gottlieb.
Adolph Gottlieb was born in New York and studied at a number of art schools in the early Twenties. From 1935 to 1940 he exhibited his work with the Expressionist group known as The Ten which included Mark Rothko as one of its members. Around this time he also participated in the Federal Arts Project set up to support artists during the difficult Depression years. After he moved to the Arizona desert in 1937 his work became more Surrealist and upon moving back to New York two years later he met a number of European Surrealists who introduced him to the concept of the subconscious and the importance it can play in one’s work.
Gottlieb’s ‘Pictographs’ (1941-1951) series was his first fully realised work. It was the first time that he incorporated mythology into his painting through his use of various symbols arranged in a grid-like format. From 1951 to 1957 he worked on his
‘Imaginary Landscapes’ series featuring shapes suggesting the night sky amidst heavy brushstrokes. His ‘Bursts’ (1957-1974) series also drew inspiration from the stars above this time creating a more immediate dramatic effect.
He is regarded as one of the leading Abstract Expressionists.