The Beginning of Seeing Tribal Art and the Pictographs of Adolph Gottlieb By Sanford Hirsch
Past Exhibition Catalogue October 3, 2002 - December 29, 2002
In 1941, the year the United States entered World War ll, Adolph Gottlieb began the series of paintings that brought him to the attention of major critics and museums. The Pictographs, as he called them, were a departure in the art of painting. They were markedly different from the dominant trend of European Surrealism or the more conservative forms that were promoted as American, such as Social Realism and Regionalism.
One of the major attributes of Gottlieb's Pictographs is their association with primitivism and the arts of tribal societies. Primitivism was a familiar issue for modernist artists in the 1930's and the early 1940's. References to tribal arts were common to the European avant-garde since at least the time of Gauguin. Such major figures as Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso were known to collect masks and sculpture from Africa and Oceania. Working at the beginning of the twentieth century, artists of Die Blaue Reiter and Die Brucke credited tribal and self-taught artists as the key to a different kind of modern art. ...