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Adolph Gottlieb

(1903 - 1974)
Adolph Gottlieb was born in New York City in 1903, the first of 3 children of Emil and Elsie (Berger) Gottlieb. He attended public schools in New York however left high school to work his way to Europe at the age of 17, when he resolved to be an artist. Gottlieb lived in Paris for six months where he visited The Louvre Museum daily and audited sketch classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, then spent another year visiting museums and galleries in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Dresden, among other major European cities. He returned to New York in 1924.

Gottlieb attended classes at The Art Students League, Educational Alliance, and other local schools where he met early friends including Mark Rothko, John Graham, Milton Avery, and Chaim Gross. Barnett Newman was another early and close friend.

Gottlieb valued the artist’s role as a leader and creator, and he served as both with his art and his organizing abilities. He was a founding member of artist’s groups as early as The Ten in 1935, and helped organize the Federation of American Painters and Sculptors (1939) and New York Artist-Painters (1943); was instrumental in organizing the Forum 49 sessions in Provincetown and New York City and was the primary organizer of the protest that led to the naming of he and his friends as “The Irascibles” in 1951.

Gottlieb had his first solo exhibition in 1930 and was the first of his colleagues to be collected by a major museum when the Guggenheim Museum purchased eleven works in 1945 and the Museum of Modern Art purchased a painting in 1946.

His art was the subject of 34 solo exhibitions in his lifetime, including a retrospective exhibition jointly organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York that filled both museums concurrently in 1968. He was the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, among which he was the first American to win the Gran Premio at the Bienal do São Paulo in 1963.

Adolph Gottlieb died in New York City in 1974. He left a legacy of art, active involvement in the art and progressive movements of his time, and a foundation that extends his legacy of giving to individual artists and promoting their interests.