Exhibitions: Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000

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  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

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    Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000

    Press Releases ?
    • November 2000: Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950–2000, an exhibition of some thirty-five works depicting the effects of individual and institutional power, will be presented from May 18 through August 19, 2001 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the final venue of an international tour. These expressive political paintings, many of which are mural-sized, explore issues of race, violence, war, and human suffering.

      Golub, who has always painted in a unique figural style, draws upon diverse representations of the body from ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, to photographs of athletic competitions, to gay pornography; often pulled directly from a huge database he has assembled of journalistic images from the mass media. He has likened his painting process to sculptural technique and employs a method of layering and scraping away paint, sometimes using a meat cleaver, leaving varying amounts of canvas untouched.

      Born in Chicago in 1922, Golub received his B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago in 1942. From 1947 to 1949 he studied, under the G.I. Bill, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he met the artist Nancy Spero, to whom he has been married for nearly fifty years. In Chicago he became involved with other painters, known as the Monster Roster group, who believed that an observable connection to the external world and to actual events was essential if a painting was to have any relevance to the viewer or society. This is a view that has informed Golub’s work throughout his career.

      Included in the exhibition are works from the 1950s that are based on a single totemic figure and were intended to portray the post-war sensibility and systems of power and conflict. These figures refer to classical mythology and portray kings, warriors, and shamans, as well as hybrid man-and-beast monsters, among them The Bug (War Machine) (1953); Prince Sphinx (1955); and Birth III (1956); a part of a series inspired by Golub’s becoming a father. An extended trip to Italy in 1956 deepened his interest in Roman and Etruscan art and influenced works such as Fallen Warrior (Burnt Man) (1959) and Gigantomachy II (1966), which reference the warriors of classical art.

      From 1959 through 1964 Golub and his family lived in Paris, a move occasioned in part by the belief that Europe would be more receptive to his figural style. During this period Golub’s work increased in size because of larger available studio space and the inspiration of the French tradition of large-scale history painting. He also switched from using lacquer to acrylics, turned [to] leaving more of the surface unpainted, and began to grind the paint directly into the canvas.

      When Golub returned to New York, the Vietnam War was escalating, and he responded with his two series: Napalm and Vietnam, which are represented in the exhibition by Napalm I (1969), which marks a transition in the artist’s work from generic to specific social issues, and the wall-sized Vietnam II (1973), which depicts the bodies of civilians under attack.

      In the mid-seventies Golub was beset with self -doubt. He destroyed nearly every work he produced during this period and nearly abandoned painting. In the late seventies, however, he produced more than a hundred portraits of public figures, among them political leaders, dictators, and religious figures. Leon Golub: Paintings 1950–2000 includes several portraits of Nelson Rockefeller and Ho Chi Minh, along with images of Fidel Castro, Francisco Franco, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger.

      In the 1980s Golub turned his attention to terrorism in a variety of forms, from the subversive operations of governments to urban street violence. Killing fields, torture chambers, bars, and brothels became inspiration and subject for work that dealt with such themes as violent aggression, racial inequality, gender ambiguity, oppression, and exclusion. Among the work produced in this period are the series Mercenaries, Interrogation, Riot, and Horsing Around, examples of which are included in the exhibition. Horsing Around III (1983) and Two Black Women and A White Man (1986), containing images that resonate with racial and sexual tension, have broad cultural and psychological meanings.

      From the nineties to the present, Golub’s work has shifted toward the illusionistic, with forms now semi-visible, and appropriating graphic styles from ancient carvings, medieval manuscripts, and contemporary graffiti. As an older person now considering mortality, he has moved towards themes of separation, loss, and death. Text appears in many of the paintings and is combined with a series of symbolic references, including dogs, lions, skulls, and skeletons.

      Golub’s work has been seen in solo exhibitions throughout the world, among them World Wide (1991), a Grand Lobby project at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. For World Wide the artist created a process, repeated in exhibitions at several other museums, by which he enlarged images and details from his paintings and screened them on transparent sheets of vinyl, hung so that they surround the viewer. He has also been represented in many group exhibitions and was one of the few white artists included in Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994.

      Leon Golub: Paintings 1950–2000 was organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, where it was curated by Jon Bird. The presentation of this exhibition at the BMA has been organized by Associate Curator, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Department of Contemporary Art and is supported, in part, by a generous contribution from The Broad Art Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, Leon Golub: Echoes of the Real, by Jon Bird, published by Reaktion Books.

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    • June 2001: Continuing Exhibitions

      Arts of Africa
      Long-Term Installation

      Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950–2000
      Through August 19, 2001

      Digital: Printmaking Now
      June 22-September 2, 2001

      Upcoming Exhibitions

      My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation
      July 28-October 7, 2001

      American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA
      Opens September 5, 2001 (Long-Term Installation)

      Wit and Wine: A New Look at Ancient Iranian Ceramics from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
      September 7-December 30, 2001

      Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940–1960
      October 12, 2001-January 6, 2002

      Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum
      November 23, 2001-February 24, 2002

      Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
      April 5-July, 7 2002

      Exposed: The Victorian Nude
      September 2, 2002-January 5, 2003

      The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz
      February 28-May 11, 2003

      Great Expectations: John Singer Sargent Painting Children
      September 19-November 30, 2003


      Continuing Exhibitions

      Arts of Africa
      Long-Term Installation
      (African Galleries, 1st floor)
      More than twenty important objects, previously not on view, will be integrated into a major reinstallation of some 225 works from the Museum's exceptional holdings of African art. Although a wide selection from the hundreds of African cultures will be represented, the reinstallation is exceptionally strong in works from Central Africa, particularly those from the Kongo, Luba, and Kuba peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority of the items on display were created for religious or political ceremonial life, but the presentation will also include furniture, textiles, architectural fragments, household items, and objects of personal adornment.
      Organization: The reinstallation has been organized by William C. Siegmann, Chair of the Department of the Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

      Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000
      Through August 19, 2001
      (European Painting and Sculpture Galleries, 5th floor)
      This exhibition examines the career of Leon Golub (b. 1922), dean of American political art, whose intense, gritty paintings examine the complexities of power. The artist's raw and expressive canvases span the second half of the twentieth century and explore issues of race, violence, war, and the human condition. The exhibition of some fifty-five works, many of which are mural-sized, includes such monumental paintings as Gigantomachy Il (1966), Vietnam II (1973), and the BMA's own Riot IV (1983). A selection of Golub's lesser-known political portraits and his recent paintings that consider mortality will also be included.
      Organization: Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950-2000 was curated by Jon Bird, an independent, London-based curator, and organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Associate Curator in the Department of Contemporary Art, organized the presentation at the BMA.
      Support: The BMA presentation is supported, in part, by the BMA's Barbara and Richard Debs Exhibition Fund. Additional support is provided by The Broad Art Foundation and Dr. and Mrs. Philip J. Kozinn. Educational activities are made possible by the Third Millennium Foundation.
      Publication: Leon Golub: Echoes of the Real, with an essay by Jon Bird, includes more than 130 color plates and is published by Reaktion Books, Ltd., London.

      Digital: Printmaking Now
      June 22-September 2, 2001
      (Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th floor)
      This installment of the Print National, a survey of important developments in the field of printmaking, will focus on the increasing use of computers in the printmaking process. The exhibition, one of the first to address this issue, will include traditionally printed works that have been manipulated digitally and works created entirely by computer.
      Organization: This exhibition was organized by Marilyn Kushner, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Support: Digital: Printmaking Now is organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., and the BMA's Prints and Photographs Council. Additional support is provided by Marc A. Schwartz, Seymour and Laura Schweber, and Philip and Alma Kalb, and The Fund—created by a gift from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Educational activities are supported by the Third Millennium Foundation. Media sponsors are Artbyte Magazine and Art on Paper.
      Publication: A fully-illustrated color catalogue will be available.


      Upcoming Exhibitions

      My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation
      July 28-October 7, 2001
      Synergies between Japanese and American popular culture are explored in this showcase of photography, painting, sculpture, and video that investigates the influence of Japanese animation (anime) and techno-culture on art. Anime is incredibly versatile in its ability to comment on social and sexual mores, gender roles, and traditional values in the face of an increasingly alien future. The exhibition features work by Takashi Murakami, Mariko Mori, Paul McCarthy, and Charlie White, among others.
      Organization: My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation was originally curated by Jeff Fleming, Senior Curator, and Susan Lubowsky Talbott, Director of the Des Moines Art Center. The exhibition is coordinated at the Brooklyn Museum of Art by Charlotta Kotik, Department Chair of Contemporary Art.
      Support: Educational activities for the BMA's presentation are supported by the Third Millennium Foundation. Additional support provided by The Fund—created by a gift from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
      Publication: An illustrated catalogue co-published by the Des Moines Art Center and Independent Curators International accompanies My Reality.

      American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA
      September 5, 2001-Long Term
      (Luce Center for American Art, 5th floor)
      This reinstallation of approximately 350 works from the permanent collections will present an innovative thematic survey of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the early eighteenth century to the present. An orientation gallery will introduce the visitor to the scope of the collections, showcasing a number of icons in a Brooklyn context. The galleries will be organized in a general chronological fashion with richly interpreted installations devoted to such themes as Dutch New Yorkers, Shaping American Landscapes, The Civil War Era, Women's Worlds, Urban Experiences, and The Drive toward Abstraction.
      Organization: This project is a collaboration among curators of American Paintings and Sculpture: Teresa A. Carbone, Project Director; Linda S. Ferber and Barbara Dayer Gallati; Decorative Arts: Kevin L. Stayton, Chair of Department of Decorative Arts, Barry R. Harwood; Contemporary Art: Charlotta Kotik; Arts of Americas: Susan Kennedy Zeller
      Support: American Identities: A Reinterpretation of American Art at the BMA is supported by a generous grant from the Independence Community Foundation for the Museum's project American Identities: Building Audiences for the Future, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

      Wit and Wine: A New Look at Ancient Iranian Ceramics from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
      September 7-December 30, 2001
      (Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st floor)
      This exhibition comprises forty-five pottery vessels—most for holding or pouring wine—from ancient Iran, ranging in date from the fifth millennium B.C. to the third century A.D. Demonstrating the extraordinary range of Iranian pottery, the exhibition includes such whimsical examples as a juglike vessel in the shape of human feet, and sculptural works in the shape of camels and bulls. Some containers clearly imitate early metal prototypes, with their unusually thin walls and long spouts, while others are painted with sophisticated ornamental designs depicting the animals of the Iranian highland. The Brooklyn Museum of Art is the last scheduled venue for this traveling exhibition.
      Organization: The exhibition has been organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and curated by Dr. Trudy S. Kawami. James F. Romano, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the BMA, will organize the presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

      Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960
      October 5, 2001-January 6, 2002
      (Grand Lobby, 1st floor; Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th floor)
      This interdisciplinary exhibition will present 250 of the most innovative works of the 1940s and 1950s that embraced a vocabulary of organic, or vital, forms. Through architecture, decorative and industrial arts, graphic design, painting, photography, and sculpture, Vital Forms will examine the use of nature-based imagery during the postwar era. The exhibition will show how this aesthetic development represented an affirmation of life in the face of the Cold War and at the dawn of the nuclear age. Exploring the organic visual language adopted by some of the era's most progressive creators, the exhibition will include works of art and design such as paintings by Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, the "Predicta" television set, images of Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport, Tupperware, the "Slinky," and the Ford Thunderbird. Additionally, the exhibition will trace how that visual vocabulary was applied to objects of popular culture, such as Formica countertop laminate and paperback book covers. The exhibition is the third in a series organized by the BMA that began with The American Renaissance, 1876-1917 (1979) and continued with The Machine Age in America, 1918-1941 (1986).
      Organization: This exhibition will be organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Kevin Stayton, Department Head and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Martin Filler and Mildred Friedman are consulting co-curators, and Dr. Paul Boyer is the project's cultural historian.
      Publication: A full-color catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., will accompany the exhibition.
      Tour:
      Brooklyn Museum
      of Art:
      October 12, 2001-January 6, 2002

      Walker Art Center:
      February 16-May 12, 2002

      Frist Center for the Visual Arts:
      June 21-September 15, 2002

      Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
      November 17, 2002-February 23, 2003

      Phoenix Art Museum:
      April 4-June 29, 2003

      Support: Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960 was organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal Foundation, The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and the Gramercy Park Foundation. Support for the catalogue was provided through the generosity of Furthermore, the Publication Program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, as well as a BMA publications endowment created by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

      Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from The British Museum
      November 23, 2001-February 24, 2002
      (Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Gallery, 5th floor)
      This exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to view more than 140 ancient Egyptian masterpieces from The British Museum in London, many of which have never before traveled to the United States. Many large-scale works will be presented, including the capital of a temple column with a monumental carving of the goddess Hathor, as well as a world-famous portrait statue of the great pharaoh Sesostris III, royal jewelry, and paintings on papyrus illustrating scenes from The Book of the Dead. The exhibition will span the entire pharaonic period, from Dynasty I (about 3100 B.C.) to the period of Roman rule (4th century A.D.).
      Organization: This exhibition was organized by the American Federation of Arts and the British Museum, with guest curator Edna R. Russmann, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and W. V. Davies, the British Museum's Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities.
      Support: This exhibition and its national tour are made possible by Ford Motor Company. The official hotel of the Brooklyn leg of exhibition is the New York Marriott Brooklyn. Promotional support for the BMA's presentation is provided by Bloomingdale's. Additional support has been provided by the Benefactors Circle of the AFA.
      Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

      Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
      April 5-July 7, 2002
      (Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th & 5th floors)
      The exhibition showcases original artwork, props, models, costumes, and characters used to create the original Star Wars trilogy—Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi—as well as Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Included will be over 30 mannequins, 35 models, and 50 pieces of framed artworks. Among them will be R2-D2, C-3P0, Darth Vader, Yoda, Boba Fett, and Yoda as well as Princess Leia's Slave Girl Costume, Han Solo frozen in carbonite, the Millennium Falcon, and one of Queen Amidala's royal gowns. Interpretive panels throughout the exhibition trace the mythological and literary sources that transform Star Wars into a timeless epic. Drawing upon the work of Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the exhibition shows how the themes of the young hero, the faithful companions, the endangered maiden, the wise guide, and others resonate through the Star Wars saga and give it an enduring universality. The exhibition will include a 26-minute documentary film, which will play continuously, on the making of the Star Wars saga.
      Organization:
      Star Wars: The Magic of Myth was developed by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition was organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). All artifacts in this exhibition are on loan from the archives of Lucasfilm Ltd. The Brooklyn Museum of Art will be the final stop of a national tour. Catalogue: An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, entitled Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, by Mary Henderson, exhibition curator from the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

      Exposed: The Victorian Nude
      September 2, 2002-January 5, 2003
      (Schapiro Galleries, 4th floor)
      The nude figure was one of the most controversial subjects in Victorian England. It fired the Victorian imagination as the central focus of arguments about aesthetics, morality, sexuality, and desire—issues that continue to provoke debate. Exposed: The Victorian Nude is the first exhibition to survey the full range of representations of the nude in Victorian art. While the exhibition concentrates mainly on the "high arts" of painting and sculpture, photography, popular illustrations, advertising, and caricature are included to demonstrate the prevalence of the nude in Victorian visual culture and the meaning it held.
      Organization: Exposed: The Victorian Nude has been organized by Tate Britain. Barbara Dayer Gallati, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, will coordinate the presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
      Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue will be available.
      Tour: The Brooklyn Museum of Art will be the only North American stop of this exhibition tour.

      The Adventures of Hamza
      November 1, 2002-January 26, 2003
      (Blum Gallery, 1st floor)
      The Adventures of Hamza (or Hamzanama) is a fantastic adventure story about the exploits of Hamza, uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, who traveled throughout the world spreading the doctrines of Islam. The narrative tells of encounters with giants, demons, and dragons; of abductions and hair - raising chases; and of believers, as well as those who resisted Islam. A favorite story for illustration, it was also recited in coffeehouses from Iran to northern India. The greatest illustrated manuscript of the Hamzanama was made in India for the Mughal Emperor Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) when he was still a teenager. It originally contained 1,400 enormous illustrations, about a tenth of which have survived today. This exhibition brings together some 70 of these illustrations from collections all over the world, and places them alongside new translations of the related text passages. Organization: The Adventures of Hamza has been curated by Dr. John W. Seyller and organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution. Amy G. Poster, Chair of the Asian Art Department at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, will coordinate the exhibition at the BMA.
      Publication: A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition.

      Great Expectations: John Singer Sargent Painting Children
      September 19-November 30, 2003
      (Schapiro Galleries, 4th floor)
      John Singer Sargent is best known for his portraits of society women. This exhibition will assemble some forty depictions of children by Sargent to present an unexpected and revealing examination of his art. Rather than presenting children in the saccharine, sentimentalized fashion of the day, Sargent often captured them in moments of sober contemplation. Portraying his young subjects as psychologically complex individuals, Sargent redefined children's portraiture, which typically treated childhood as a generic age of innocence.
      Organization: This exhibition will be organized by Barbara Dayer Gallati, Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
      Publication: A fully illustrated color catalogue will accompany this exhibition.

      The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz
      February 29-May 11, 2003
      The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz will feature two- and three-dimensional art produced by interned victims of Auschwitz and other camps. Artwork served different functions in the camps—catharsis, documentation, resistance, decoration, and official commissions. This exhibition will present the role of visual arts in concentration camps. The works of Jewish inmates, as well as that of resistance fighters from throughout Europe, will be included in this show.
      Organization: The Last Expression: Art from Auschwitz will be organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Marilyn Kushner, Curator of Prints and Drawings, will be managing the project at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 2001, 070-077 View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3 . View Original 4 . View Original 5 . View Original 6 . View Original 7 . View Original 8

    Press Coverage of this Exhibition ?

    • ART REVIEW; A Hostile Witness to the Inhumanity of the Human ConditionMay 25, 2001 By GRACE GLUECKGrace Glueck reviews Leon Golub's paintings at Brooklyn Museum; photos (M)
    • ART GUIDEJune 1, 2001 "A selective listing by critics of The New York Times of new or noteworthy art, design and photography exhibitions at New York museums and art galleries this weekend. Addresses, unless otherwise noted, are in Manhattan. Most galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but hours vary and should be checked by telephone. Gallery admission is free. *..."
    • ART GUIDEJune 8, 2001 "A selective listing by critics of The New York Times of new or noteworthy art, design and photography exhibitions at New York museums and art galleries this weekend. Addresses, unless otherwise noted, are in Manhattan. Most galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but hours vary and should be checked by telephone. Gallery admission is free. *..."
    • ART GUIDEJune 15, 2001 "A selective listing by critics of The New York Times of new or noteworthy art, design and photography exhibitions at New York museums and art galleries this weekend. Addresses, unless otherwise noted, are in Manhattan. Most galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but hours vary and should be checked by telephone. Gallery admission is free. *..."
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    The Brooklyn Museum Archives maintains a collection of historical press releases. Many of these have been scanned and made available on our Web site. The releases range from brief announcements to extensive articles; images of the original releases have been included for your reference. Please note that all the original typographical elements, including occasional errors, have been retained. Releases may also contain errors as a result of the scanning process. We welcome your feedback about corrections.
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