Oil on canvas
48 x 60 inches
Signed, titled and dated on the verso
A native New Yorker, Gottlieb studied at the Art Students’ League, the Parsons School of Design, and the Cooper Union. He traveled in Europe in 1921–22, and after returning to New York, he attended Robert Henri’s lectures and began lifelong friendships with Mark Rothko and Milton Avery, the latter serving as a mentor. Gottlieb spent time in Arizona in 1937 and 1938 that greatly influenced his work: He began to incorporate aspects of surrealism into his art, and he adopted a more symbolic approach. Gottlieb became an important figure in the New York art world in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and was a critical force in the emergence of abstract expressionism.
Bland is an example of one of Gottlieb’s “Imaginary Landscapes,” in which he experimented with opposing forms and colors on large canvases that have been divided horizontally. The horizon line has been omitted here, as clearly articulated circles float above a cursive mass and one small bright blue burst straddles the divide. Gottlieb felt that the experience of looking at a painting could not necessarily be translated into words and asserted that his art was the conscious expression of unconscious emotion: “The subconscious has been my guiding factor in all my work. I deal with inner feeling.”