Adolph Gottlieb: A Pioneer of the New York School

Apaquogue (1961) | Adolph Gottlieb

Adolph Gottlieb was one of the foremost pioneers of the New York School, a post-World War II art movement that placed New York City at the forefront of international modern art. Born on this day March 14, 1903, Gottlieb’s contribution to the world of abstract expressionism, a key subset of the New York School, is momentous. His work not only helped shape the trajectory of American art but also played a significant role in shifting the global art scene’s focus from Europe to the United States.

Gottlieb’s artistic journey was marked by a persistent quest for new modes of expression and a bold willingness to innovate. He was one of the first artists of his time to create ‘Pictographs’ – symbolic images derived from the unconscious mind. This unique artistic language allowed him to explore and express complex human emotions and existential themes in an abstract form. His ‘Burst’ paintings, another significant innovation, juxtaposed soft, circular forms with sharp, jagged lines, embodying both harmony and conflict.

What set Adolph Gottlieb apart was his relentless commitment to his artistic vision, even amidst criticism and lack of understanding. His belief in the individual artist’s right to self-expression was unwavering and perhaps best encapsulated in a statement he co-wrote with fellow artists in 1950, known as the ‘Irascibles Letter’. It was a protest against the conservative selection criteria of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s juried exhibitions.

Adolph Gottlieb’s influence on the New York School and abstract expressionism cannot be overstated. His work forms an integral part of some of the world’s most prestigious art collections today. His legacy continues to inspire artists worldwide, confirming his status as one of the most important figures in 20th-century art.

Curated by Jennifer