Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel, sold to benefit the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation
Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)


Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974)
signed, titled and dated 'Adolph Gottlieb "AZIMUTH" 1965' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
96 x 144 in. (243.8 x 365.8 cm.)
Painted in 1965.
The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, New York
Private collection, London
Pace Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 1993
J. Margold, "He Sees Twin Bill Part of Long Run," Newsday, 16 February 1968 (illustrated).
''You Should Pardon The Expressionism," The Daily News, 16 February 1968 (illustrated).
L. Alloway, "Melpomene and Graffiti," Art International, XII, April,1968.
C. Andreae, "Adolph Gottlieb," The Christian Science Monitor, 23 July 1968 (illustrated).
D. Fry, "IMA Hosts Show of Gottlieb Abstracts," The Indianapolis Star, 16 May 1982 (illustrated).
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Adolph Gottlieb: Twelve Paintings, February-March 1966.
Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hayden Gallery, Adolph Gottlieb, May-June 1966.
The Arts Club of Chicago, Recent Works of Adolph Gottlieb, May-June 1967, p. 1 (illustrated).
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, 1967 Pittsburgh International Exhibition, October 1967-January 1968.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Washington D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art and Waltham, Rose Art Museum, Adolph Gottlieb, February-October 1968, p. 99 (illustrated).
Washington D.C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art; The Tampa Museum; The Toledo Museum of Art; The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery; Flint Institute of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and The Tel Aviv Museum, Adolph Gottlieb: A Retrospective, April 1981-January 1983, p. 142 (illustrated).
New York, Knoedler Gallery, Adolph Gottlieb: Horizontal Paintings, January-February 1988.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan

Lot Essay

Created only two years after Gottlieb’s award at Sao Paolo Biennale in Brazil, and three years before his major 1968 retrospective organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Whitney Museum of American Art, Azimuth is an outstanding example within the painter’s oeuvre.

Azimuth, executed on a large, blank canvas, stylistically sits between Gottlieb’s Pictogram works and the Bursts. As it depicts black, self-contained, separate symbols, such as full and empty circles, lines as well as patches of paint; compositionally, it is divided into two horizontal planes. The only touch of color in this work is the turquoise mark at the bottom center of the canvas, acting as a background for the circular symbol, while the rest of the composition relies on the strong contrast between the white canvas and black paint. The whole work also embodies a kind of amor vacui, or a love for emptiness, that many of Gottlieb’s mature work contain, making the work appear spacious, meditative as well as monumental.

Gottlieb, an American artist, working during and after World War II, has altered his painting style multiple times throughout his early career, but never really abandoned his primary principles and reasons behind his picture-making practice. Early in his career, the painter joined a group called “The Ten” whose members included Ilya Bolotowsky and Mark Rothko, both of whom have largely influenced his further practice. Simultaneously inspired by the Surrealist art and American Abstract Expressionist movement, however, Gottlieb became fascinated with the psychoanalytical theory of the subconscious and conveying his own subjectivity and emotions through this art.

Moreover, influenced by the idea of language and the idea of symbols as constituting a kind of universal, emotional language that would speak to the collective unconscious Gottlieb turned to combining invented symbols with expressive, autographic marks in his works. On the occasion of “The New Decade” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1955, Gottlieb declared that his aim was “ project images that seem vital [to him], never to make paintings that conform to the pattern of an external standard.” In a different statement, he expressed a similar view: “I just paint from my personal feelings, and my reflexes and instincts. I have to trust these.” (A. Gottlieb quoted in J. Gruen, The Party’s Over Now: Reminiscences of the Fifties, New York, 1967).

Nevertheless, although mainly guided by him expressing his inner life, Gottlieb in his practice would also research Native American, African and Oceanic art and symbols and would create his own, invented sign system, resembling those tribal symbols. He would then utilize them in his own paintings. He would never, however, appropriate any of the actual symbols and signs, removing them from his paintings whenever he would find out a symbol had an actual meaning. In his art, inspired by science, psychology and cultures around the world, Gottlieb tried to convey the ideas of balance and contrasting forces working with and against one another. Therefore, while Azimuth seems to bridge two of Gottlieb’s most famous series, by splitting the plane in half, contrasting a filled black circle on top of the canvas with an empty outline of a circle at the bottom as well as colors and non-colors, this painting epitomizes the artist’s search to achieve harmony in painting and convey a universal language.

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