Abstract Expressionist New York

Adolph Gottlieb. Man Looking at Woman. 1949 425

Oil on canvas, 42 x 54" (106.6 x 137.1 cm). Gift of the artist. © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Curator, Ann Temkin: Gottlieb's work of this period which he called pictographs, was the artist's attempt to create a new pictorial vocabulary. He took a technique used by early Italian painters who would make separate sections, and used it as a framework for a new visual language. In 1967, the artist said.

Adolph Gottlieb: I had always admired the early Italian painters who preceded the Renaissance and I very much liked some of the altar pieces in which there would be, for example, the story of Christ told in a series of boxes, starting with the Nativity and ending with the Resurrection. This would be told chronologically, like a comic strip technique. And it seemed to me this was a very rational method of conveying something. So I made boxes but then I put the images in with no sequence and no rational order.

The images appeared apparently at random; they then established themselves in a new system. So that was why all those years I was able to use very similar images but, by having different juxtapositions, there will always be a different significance to them.

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