Search for over 80 million sold items in our price database

Green Over Black
Sold
Green Over Black
Sold

Green Over Black

US
NY, US
US

About the item

A powerful union of radically divergent forms, Green Over Black epitomizes the elemental dynamism and tremendous graphic force inherent to Adolph Gottlieb’s celebrated output.  Painted in 1960, the present work is paradigmatic of Gottlieb’s acclaimed series of Burst paintings, which represented a key innovation for the artist. The luminous green orb and tangled mass of black brushstrokes, suspended in dynamic symmetry, evoke the subliminal Jungian dualities underlying Gottlieb’s abstraction to produce a composition that radiates with pulsating psychic energy. While conveying the artist’s prodigious command of both gestural painting and color theory, the work resists categorization with the 'Color Field' or 'Action' paintings of Gottlieb’s contemporaries. Instead, Green Over Black enacts a visual fusion between these two veins of Abstract Expressionism, drawing the viewer into the volatile balance of Gottlieb's spellbinding composition. The Burst series, which has come to be regarded comprising as some of the most psychologically complex and visually stimulating works of Abstract Expressionism, represents a dramatic breakthrough within Gottlieb’s artistic oeuvre. A founder and key figure of the New York School, Gottlieb had primarily explored themes of symbolism and mythology in his Pictograph and Imaginary Landscape series of the 1940s and early 1950s. In 1957, increasingly drawn to the exhilarating visual force of simple, monumental forms, Gottlieb began reducing his compositions to a single, explosive format: a white background, emblazoned with a colored orb suspended above a dark, tangled mass. In simplifying his compositions, Gottlieb adhered to the joint proclamation he issued with his contemporary, Mark Rothko, in 1943: “We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.” (Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, “A Letter from Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb to the Art Editor of the New York Times,” June 7, 1943, n.p.) In the years following, Gottlieb remained consumed by the incredible energy of this composition, repeatedly making slight adjustments to form and color to enhance the optical charge of these striking works. Standing before Green Over Black, painted three years after the first Burst painting, the viewer cannot resist the hypnotic lure that radiates from the impossible tension between the two suspended forms. The luminescent depth of the green orb draws the viewer’s gaze with a siren’s call of saturated color; in fierce opposition, the gestural strokes of the black mass explode outward in a frenzy of motion that expands far beyond the borders of the canvas. By engaging these two polar bodies in contentious opposition, Gottlieb creates a composition that crackles with the scintillating possibility of sudden collapse.\nThe compositional binary of the Burst series aligns Gottlieb’s paintings with each of the predominant theoretical strains of Abstract Expressionism , thereby placing the influence of both in dynamic coexistence within a single frame. The subterranean mass of black strokes is painted in an emotive, painterly manner reminiscent of the gestural expressionism of Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline. In contrast, the transcendent color and soft, glowing halo of the upper form calls to mind the Color Field paintings of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko. Noting the inherent tension in his work, Gottlieb remarked, “I want to express the utmost intensity of the color… At the same time, I would also like to bring out a certain immaterial character that it can have, so that it exists as a sensation and a feeling that will carry nuances not necessarily inherent in the color, which are brought about by juxtaposition.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (and travelling), Adolph Gottlieb, 1968, p. 21) While the two schools are often seen as mutually exclusive, Gottlieb combines them with a masterful grasp of multifaceted abstraction, skillfully playing them against each other to enhance the texture of the work. As noted by Mary Davis MacNaughton, “Gottlieb’s art is not dramatic ‘gesture’ painting… Nor is his art austere ‘color field’ painting… Instead, Gottlieb’s mature art synthesizes contrasting esthetic modes—both free and controlled—to express both the emotional and rational sides of his inner experience. In sum, Gottlieb’s art was the conscious expression of his unconscious feelings.” (Mary Davis MacNaughton in Exh. Cat. Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art (and travelling), Adolph Gottlieb: A Retrospective, 1981, p. 49)\nGreen Over Black revels in the infinite dichotomies of its composition: the opposition of stasis and motion, color and shadow, form and stroke, celestial and subterranean. Gottlieb’s fascination with the acute power of binaries was heavily inspired by the work of philosopher Carl Jung, the dominant psychoanalytic theorist of the age. By casting two such monumental masses in opposition, Gottlieb creates the visual equivalent to Jung’s acclaimed theory of the ego and the unconscious: two mental selves, neither of which can exist without the other. Jungian theory identifies unresolved tension between these two conflicting forces, which must exist in precise balance, as neurosis. Gottlieb noted of his own work, “Subjective imagery is the area which I have been exploring…I reject the outer world - the appearance of the natural world…The subconscious has been my guiding factor in all my work. I deal with inner feeling.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., Washington, D. C., Corcoran Gallery of Art (and travelling), Adolph Gottlieb: A Retrospective, 1981, p. 49)\nThe Burst paintings mark the fulfillment of Gottlieb’s desire to resolve the eternal conflict of the psyche through his compositions, realizing his earlier statement with Rothko, “We favor the simple expression of the complex thought.” In powerful, elemental forms, Gottlieb articulates the tension inherent to the natural world, uniting the binary poles of Abstract Expressionism in a single, balanced psyche. Pulsating with a visual and psychic energy that defies the containment of a frame, Green Over Black enacts a visual psychoanalysis upon the viewer. As our eye meets the hovering glow of the green oculus, suspended above the dark chaos of frenzied streaks, we are drawn into a blissful balance between disparate forms, movements, and selves.\nSigned, dated 1960 and numbered 6004 on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Adolph Gottlieb

dimensions

90 1/4 by 59 3/4 in. 229.2 by 151.7 cm.

exhibition

Paris, Galerie Neufville, Gottlieb, November - December 1960 Milan, Galleria dell'Ariete, Gottlieb, May - June 1961 Lissone, Palazzo del Centro del Mobile, XII Premio Lissone, internationale per la pittura, September - October 1961, n.p., illustrated Turin, Galleria Notizie, Artisti Americani, May 1962, p. 15, illustrated Turin, Palazzo della Promotrice al Valentino, L'incontro di Torino: Pittori d'America, Europa e Giappone, September - October 1962, n.p., illustrated New York, Union Carbide Corporation Gallery, Art from Corporate Collections, May 1979

literature

George Waldemar, "L'Expressionnisme," Combat, January 9, 1961, illustrated David Sylvester, "Adolph Gottlieb: An Interview with David Sylvester," Living Arts 2, June 1963, p. 8, illustrated

provenance

Galerie Neufville, Paris Galleria dell’Ariete, Milan Private Collection, Italy Acquavella Contemporary Art, New York Alexander Milliken Gallery, New York Acquired by the present owner from the above 

signedDate

Signed, dated 1960 and numbered 6004 on the reverse

artist_range_end

1974

artist_range_start

1903

consignmentDesignation

Property from an Important American Corporate Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1903 - 1974


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


Advert
Advert

Sold items

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Sold

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Realized Price
106,482,500 USD

Black Fire I
Sold

Black Fire I

Realized Price
84,165,000 USD

Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)
Sold

Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)

Realized Price
71,720,000 USD

No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)
Sold

No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)

Realized Price
44,965,000 USD

No. 36 (Black Stripe)
Sold

No. 36 (Black Stripe)

Realized Price
40,485,000 USD

Mystic Suprematism (Black Cross on Red Oval)
Sold
Untitled (Black on Maroon)
Sold

Untitled (Black on Maroon)

Realized Price
27,003,750 USD

Femme dans la nuit
Sold

Femme dans la nuit

Realized Price
22,590,000 USD