Leon Golub. White Squad. 1987

Leon Golub White Squad 1987

  • Not on view

Painter, printmaker, and political activist, Leon Golub has been making art about the disparity between power and powerlessness since his earliest paintings in the 1940s. He evolved his expressive figural style through an extensive study of sources ranging from classical sculpture to illustrations in the popular press. In the 1970s he began communicating his universal themes by referencing specific events and contexts in series centered on political leaders, mercenaries, and victims of torture. His monumental unstretched canvases portray disturbing tableaux of evil and human vulnerability in a piercing critique of contemporary society.

Golub has completed more than one hundred thirty prints since making his first lithographs in 1946 in his native Chicago. He works in lithography, screenprint, and etching and often explores his images through varying states and colors. He frequently employs photographic processes to generate an initial image, which he then manipulates, distorts, and reworks before printing. Golub has collaborated with a variety of workshops, including Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the mid-1960s and Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper in New Brunswick, New Jersey, more recently. He also frequently self-publishes his prints.

Golub's White Squad series depicts policemen in scenes of government-sponsored abuse. In this lithograph he reiterates images from two related paintings, dramatically juxtaposing them on a stark background in a shocking vision of terror. The abrupt cropping of the arm in the upper right, and Mannerist distortion of the looming head at the left, are typical of Golub's jarring compositional strategies. In addition, by turning the gaze of one of the abusers out of the picture frame, Golub implicates the viewer as a bystander in the horrifying event unfolding and intensifies the unsettling psychological impact of the composition.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Wendy Weitman, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 215.
Medium
Lithograph
Dimensions
composition: 29 5/8 x 40 5/8" (75.2 x 103.2 cm); sheet: 29 5/8 x 41 1/2" (75.2 x 105.4 cm)
Publisher
Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking, New Brunswick, New Jersey
Printer
Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking, New Brunswick, New Jersey
Edition
60
Credit
Gift of Arnold Smoller
Object number
612.1998
Copyright
© 2022 Leon Golub
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].