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December 06, 2002 - Image 101

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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fled Europe to live in exile in the
not tolerate any notion of society or
United States during the war, and
civilization but their own.
their presence in New York brought
The prevailing thinking supported
Surrealism to the forefront of the art
Gottlieb in his view that savagery and
world.
brutality were a normal part of human
It was in this climate of experimen-
nature and "art that did not address
tation and searching for new
this was not relevant."
means of expression that
Gottlieb tied this perception
"Untitled
Gottlieb created the first major
to the art of primitive man.
(Self-Portrait
body of his work, the
The Pictographs begin with
in Mirror),"
Pictographs (1941-51).
Oedipus, painted in 1941.
c. 1938, oil
The language of images in
According to MacNaughton,
on canvas, is
the Pictograph paintings was a
as America plunged into war,
an example of Gottlieb was pulled by the
radical break with existing
Gottlieb's
norms of painting.
Oedipus myth as a powerful
early realism. statement of man's tragic
"The Pictographs inaugurate
a lot of the concepts that later
nature.
become associated with Abstract
In Oedipus, Gottlieb fills an irregular
Expressionism, including the notion of grid with images of eyes, an important
working directly from the uncon-
Surrealist theme of inner vision. The
scious," says Sanford Hirsch, speakirig
use of pictorial language, which pre-
from the Gottlieb Foundation s New
ceded written language, emphasizes
York headquarters.
the universality of the theme.
In his enlightening catalogue essay,
The primitive images in Mariner's
Hirsch lays the groundwork for the
Incantation, including faces, a hand
intellectual currents that inspired
and a fish bathed in sea tones,.conjure
Gottlieb's Pictographs.
a journey into the briny deep of the
The mid-1930s was a time of politi-
unconscious.
cal chaos. In Asia and Europe, civi-
With the Pictographs, Gottlieb was
lized societies were being taken over by
militarist dictatorships, which would
EVOLUTION on page 74

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73

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