Radiating with power and vibrancy, Gottlieb's Summer #2 (Lot 24) is an essential painting by the Abstract Expressionist painter, Adolf Gottlieb. In the 1964 work, the artist suspends his signature orb above an inky and gestural paint. Reducing his painted marks to their formal essence, Gottlieb creates an evocatively elemental composition with graphic and chromatic punch. Summer #2 recalls the words of art critic Lawrence Alloway, who said, "Gottlieb's balance of surface and mark, field and gesture, has no parallel among his contemporaries" (L. Alloway, "Adolph Gottlieb and Abstract Painting," Adolph Gottlieb: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., p. 54).
In Summer #2, both compositional elements radiate with an intensity that seems to exceed their physical boundaries: while the upper disc pulses with energy, the calligraphic surge of paint below exhibits a sense of power and spontaneity. Observing his frequent use of red and black tones, Gottlieb remarked, "I feel that I use color in terms of an emotional quality... a vehicle for the expression of feeling. Now what this feeling is, is something I probably can't define, but since I eliminated almost everything from my painting except a few colors and perhaps two or three shapes, I feel a necessity for making the particular colors that I use, or the particular shapes, carry the burden of everything that I want to express, and all has to be concentrated within these few elements. Therefore, the color has to carry the burden of this effort" (A. Gottlieb, "Selected Writings," The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc., www.gottliebfoundation.org). The work's abstract forms reverberate with the tension of the Atomic Age with its glowing blood-red orb radiating above a massive force field, at the same time setting against an apocalyptic hue. As it captures the intense zeitgeist of the time, Summer #2 also generates universal associations through its binary form, bringing to mind the mythological clash of Apollonian and Dionysian forces or the eternal cycle of creation and destruction. In Summer #2, Gottlieb generates an elemental tension between them that is virtually electric.