The Daily Pic

04.23.12

AbEx with a Human Face

The Daily Pic: Adolph Gottlieb's abstraction isn't afraid to smile

Daily Pic: Vintage paintings by Adolph Gottlieb, in a show at Pace Gallery in New York, are unfailingly appealing and attractive and covet-able. They are also very often funny. It’s hard to imagine chuckling at works by other Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock, let alone Clyfford Still. (Those last two would have decked you for laughing; Rothko might have burst into tears.)  But a broad smile, at very least, seems the right reaction to many Gottliebs, since his abstractions are so often so anthropomorphic, and the anthropos in them seems cheerful. Barnett Newman’s abstraction showed us ourselves as fine, upstanding and stiff  – as men heroic and sublime, in the words of his most famous title.  In this 1962 painting, called “Ochre and Black,” Gottlieb shows us pulling a face.

For a full visual archive of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.