In the 1940s Gottlieb began to emulate the art of early Native American and Middle Eastern cultures, explorations that eventually inspired his Pictograph paintings, including Man Looking at Woman. This work and others like it feature hieroglyphic-like script distributed across the canvas in a series of gridded compartments. Gottlieb avoided using decipherable signs. In 1955 he said of these works, “I frequently hear the question, ‘What do these images mean?’ That is simply the wrong question. Visual images do not have to conform to either verbal thinking or optical facts. A better question would be: ‘Do these images convey any emotional truth?’”
Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.