The story of Adolph Gottlieb is typical of that of the group of Abstract Expressionists. Close friends with Milton Avery and Mark Rothko from the early 1930s, he was a founder in 1935 of “The Ten,” a loosely defined group of Expressionist painters. Studiously attentive to the European avant-garde, Cubism and Surrealism in particular, he developed a pictorial format in the 1940s that he termed the Pictograph, a grid into which he inserted a personal symbolic language of forms, evocative of primitive myth.
In 1950 Gottlieb was the organizer of “The Irascibles,” a group that formed in protest to its exclusion from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and which has been immortalized in a photograph by Nina Leen. His work became more abstract, gestural and expressionist in the 1950s, leading up to a series of images, Bursts, for which he is now best known. [Extract : Adolph Gottlieb. A Retrospective]