A Rediscovered Pioneer
Local interest stirs Detroit-area showing of innovative abstract artist Maurice Golubov.
Special to the Jewish News
aurice Golubov's son,
Michael, remembers his
father as always having
a brush or pencil in his
The senior Golubov, groomed during
his Russian youth to become a rabbi,
preferred instead drawing pictures from
the Bible — and went on to devote his
life in America to the world of art.
During a working day, after Maurice
Golubov finished the commercial
designs that first supported him and
later his family, the artist would create
original images in the margins of his
sketchpads. At home, there would be
large paintings completed in the family
apartment until the limited space
forced him to work in a studio.
People who knew art during the
artist's lifetime (1905-1987) knew his
Hebrew lettering, colorful geometric
shapes and dark figures. There would
be individual and group shows, includ-
ing one at the Jewish Museum in New
Guy and Nora Barron of Bloomfield
Hills were schooled in Golubov's
artistry by Guy Barron's mother, the
late Detroiter Florence Barron, an inte-
rior designer and collector who placed
Golubov paintings in the homes of
clients as well as her own.
When the Barrons recently learned
there were Golubov works in a New
York warehouse, they suggested a show
to the Lemberg Gallery Its owners,
Corrine Lemberg and Darlene Carroll,
ultimately agreed — but only after •
doing some firsthand research and
looking through the Manhattan ware-
house where the works are stored.
Maurice Golubov: A Life's Work comes
to Ferndale's Lertiberg Gallery Oct. 26-
Nov. 30, where miniatures will be on
view along with very large images. A
preview showing is planned for the
Great Lakes Modernism show and sale
Friday-Sunday, Oct. 18-20, at the
Southfield Civic Center.
Golubov's work has not been exhibit-
ed since 1993, when his son, the
painter's only child, became absorbed in
his own computer business and could
not devote time to cataloguing and pro-
moting the collection.
"We were intrigued by the images we
were first shown, but we were not at all
familiar with Golubov's history,"
Lemberg says. "The more we learned,
the more interested we became.
"Maurice Golubov was truly a pio-
neer of American geometric abstrac-
tion, and we were stunned by the
breadth and quality of the works that
had been hidden away.
"We are contacted nearly every day
regarding representation of new work,
and our general practice is to observe
an artist over a period of time to see
how the work changes and grows. This
was an odd situation for us."
Maurice Golubov was 12 when he
shepherded his mother and siblings
through Norway to America to meet
up with his father in Brooklyn.
Enrolled in a public school and tutored
to catch up with his classmates,
Golubov also prepared for his bar mitz-
vah. For his 13th birthday, the young
artist requested and received a box of
watercolors, crayon pencils and a pad
of paper to begin his constant experi-
mentation with color and form.
After discovering an art class offered by
the Hebrew Educational Society in 1918,
Golubov began intensive studies. The
next year, he dropped out of school to
pursue an art career. At age 15, the
painter began working in a commercial
art studio and enrolled in classes at the
National Academy of Design.
"To me, abstraction is the real thing,"
Golubov once told an interviewer.
"Abstract painting is the representation
of part of the whole, and sometimes a
part is bigger than the whole thing."
During the 1920s, Golubov gave up
his job for a time and devoted himself to
personal projects and private studies of
the classic artists. According to his son,
the artist learned about glazing tech-
niques through library research, as he
wanted to enhance his tints and reveal
texture through his brush strokes.
at the New York Art Center,
and his commitment put him
in touch with other artists of
the time. Married in 1933 to
pianist Sylvia Glasser, he took
inspiration from her talents as
he listened to her play while he
Golubov ultimately found
seasonal work as an illustrator
for the Sears and other cata-
logues and could devote the
rest of his time to painting. He
began to .exhibit regularly with
the American Abstract Artists
and had his first solo exhibition in
1943 at the Mint Museum of Art in
Although shown at the Museum of
Modern Art, he generally shunned
gallery representation and became more
is the real
"My father was terrible at promoting
himself," Michael Golubov says.
Throughout his career, Maurice
Golubov created figurative work simul-
taneously with his abstractions, often
using figures as a release from the more
intense geometrical forms.
"Some of his figures live in an abstract
Golubov's first group show was in 1926
Maurice Golubov miniature: Untitled Figures, 1940. Gouache and pencil on
paper, 3 3 /4 inches square.