Accession Number


Adolph Gottlieb

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
oil on board

11 x 13 9/16 in. (27.9 x 34.3 cm);11 x 13 1/2 in. (27.94 x 34.29 cm);15 3/16 x 17 1/2 in. (38.42 x 44.45 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Florence L. Stol

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Gottlieb’s skill with the brush was matched by his keen eye for color, both of which are evident in his Imaginary Landscapes series, of which this canvas is a part. Gottlieb aimed to represent what he called “the emotional truth of the landscape,” which he suggested in another statement was best expressed through “archetypal forms,” since these destroyed illusion and spoke directly to the primal collective unconscious. Landscape is represented here as the opposition between earth, symbolized by the black mass scratched with hieroglyph-like symbols, and air.
Gottlieb was described by contemporaries as “articulate, but in a simple, straightforward manner,” and as “having his feet on the ground.” This goes against the popular stereotype of artists—especially the Abstract Expressionists—as wild, rash, and passionately inarticulate “feeling imbeciles.” His lack of big personality may be why Gottlieb has received less than full recognition, overshadowed by the more extravagant characters of the movement.

Subject matter
One of Gottlieb's Imaginary Landscapes. The landscape reduced to basic conceptual elements, allowing the work to resonate between representation and pure minimalist abstraction. Interested in mythology, Carl Jung, and indigenous art, Gottlieb hoped to show "the emotional truth of the landscape."

Physical Description
A landscape reduced to minimal abstract elements. The lower half of the painting is black. The upper half, various shades of white and blue. Two black squares are suspended in the white above the black. A small pale blue circle is between the squares.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
landscapes (representations)
modern and contemporary art
natural landscapes
oil painting (technique)
oil paintings (visual works)
suns (stars)

7 Related Resources

Art of interest to Judaic Studies
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
European Primitivisms
(Part of 12 Learning Collections)
Landscape and Nature, Comparative and Historical
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Occult Mysticism in Western Art
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Mood in Landscape Tour
(Part of: Docent Thematic Tours)
Sharing the Planet  
(Part of: I.B. Units of Inquiry)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M01 (Joan and Robert Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art)