© Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Two Bars, 1964

Adolph Gottlieb (1903–1974, USA)

Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 198 x 335 cm

about the work

Gottlieb arranges various circles on the monochrome background, which is bordered by two broad strokes in black and white in the upper left half of the picture. A deep black circle on an unsettled-looking, violet area of paint dominates the right-hand side of the picture and attracts the viewer’s attention. From as early as the 1950s, Gottlieb’s work showed increasing abstraction – Two Bars from 1964 represents one of the highlights in this development. With this large-scale work, the artist draws on characteristics from two previous series of paintings – Imaginary Landscapes and Bursts – the circular shapes and the unsettled brushstrokes. The theme of Two Bars also occurs repeatedly in Gottlieb’s œuvre. As such, the descriptive title directs attention to the small detail in the upper left half of the picture, while accentuating the main motif at the same time. Adolph Gottlieb occupies a pioneering position within abstract expressionism along with Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and other artists. He created not only an extensive visual œuvre but also participated in discussions of new American painting and was crucially involved in its development.

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