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Adolph Gottlieb. Voyager's Return. 1946

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Adolph Gottlieb (American, 1903–1974)

Voyager's Return

Oil on canvas
37 7/8 x 29 7/8" (96.2 x 75.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy R. Neuberger
MoMA Number:
© Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Audio Program excerpt

Ideas Not Theories: Artists and The Club, 1942-1962

, October 3, 2010–February 28, 2011

Curator, Jodi Hauptman: Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman were all participants in The Club. Together they wrote a manifesto about the importance of myths to the art of their time and the kinship between the modern and the ancient. Gottlieb set out to demonstrate the continuity between past and present, particularly in the body of work he called "pictographs."

Curator, Sarah Suzuki: On this wall, you'll see a number of pictographs by Gottleib. He depicts eyes, profiles, snakes and other symbols within a kind of grid system.

Curator, Jodi Hauptman: Many Abstract Expressionists believed anyone could understand archaic art, even without knowing about the culture that it came from. And they aspired to make work that would function the same way—that its symbols and meanings could be understood by anyone of any time.

Director, Glenn Lowry: Here's Gottlieb speaking in the early 1940s.

Adolph Gottlieb: The Surrealists seemed to think it had something to do with some sort of universals. My recollection is that it was Jung who came out with the idea of the collective unconscious. Why couldn't I come up with the idea of an egg as signifying fertility just as well as an aborigine in Australia?

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