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Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) was born in the East Village in New York City. He dropped out of high school and worked for a time at his father’s stationery store before enrolling in night classes at The Art Students League studying with John Sloan and Robert Henri. In his late teens he moved to Europe for a year and traveled between Paris, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Vienna and Prague visiting galleries and museums along the way. After returning from Europe he finished high school and his desire to be an artist lead him to study at Parsons School of Design, The Art Students League, Cooper Union and the Education Alliance Art School.


Gottlieb began exhibiting his work at Opportunity Gallery in late 1920, and continued to work odd jobs such as sign painting, teaching at settlement houses, and summer camps. As the decade comes to a close he met and married Esther Dick (1932) and worked with the Works Project Administration Easel Painting Division. In the late 1930’s he won a U.S. Treasury sponsored nationwide mural competition. He was commissioned to paint a mural for the post office in Yerrington, Nevada. He continued to exhibit throughout the 1940s and became known for his “pictograph” paintings. By the early 1950s he started to paint his “Imaginary Landscapes,” which he exhibited for the first time at Kootz Gallery.


In the late 1950’s Gottlieb painted his first and most iconic series of “Burst” paintings. He taught at Pratt institute and had his first retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York. During the 1960’s he had multiple major exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, MN (1963), the Guggenheim Museum, NY (1968),  and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY (1968).  A large fire in 1966 destroyed Gottlieb’s New York City studio and all its contents after which he established a new studio and began printmaking again. in 1971 he suffered a stroke which confined him to a wheelchair and paralyzed the left side of his body. He continued to paint up until his death in 1974.


Adolph Gottlieb’s work is a part of the permanent collection of many museums including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY;  Art Institute of Chicago, IL;  Brooklyn Museum, NY;  Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Jewish Museum, NY;  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA;  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY;  Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA;  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and Whitney Museum of American Art, NY among others.



This biography is sourced from