Selected Artist Statements

(The following selections are taken from the archives of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, and will be changed from time to time. Please contact us for more information about Gottlieb’s writings and public statements.)

Statements by Adolph Gottlieb

Published in Limited Edition, December, 1945

Tonal structure is the important thing in painting a picture. Color is only an extension of value. If values are right, colors will be right and I can decide upon any color scheme I wish. If a close range of values is chosen, then color helps give variation of visual effect.

For me, this is not off the beam. You must admit that knowledge of dimensions is a result of experience. Knowledge of science, of history, of history of art – the significance we attach to them – is a complex of all knowledge about things. Vision gives us little understanding of them. When I say I am reaching for a totality of vision, I mean that I take the things I know – hand, nose, art – and use them in my paintings after separating them from their associations as anatomy. I use them as a totality of what they mean to me. It’s a primitive method, and a primitive necessity of expressing, without learning how to do so by conventional ways…It puts us at the beginning of seeing.

Published in “The Ides of Art: The Attitudes of Ten Artists on Their Art and Contemporaneousness” The Tiger’s Eye, vol. 1, no. 2, December 1947

Certain people always say we should go back to nature. I notice they never say we should go forward to nature. It seems to me they are more concerned that we should go back, than about nature.

If the models we use are the apparitions seen in a dream, or the recollection of our pre-historic past, is this less part of nature or realism, than a cow in the field? I think not. The role of the artist, of course, has always been that of image-maker. Different times require different images. Today when our aspirations have been reduced to a desperate attempt to escape from evil, and times are out of joint, our obsessive, subterranean and pictographic images are the expression of the neurosis which is our reality. To my mind certain so-called abstraction is not abstraction at all. On the contrary, it is the realism of our time.

Pictograph – Symbol, 1942

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