Leon Golub (American, January 23, 1922–August 8, 2004) was a painter by trade. Golub was born and studied in Chicago, IL. He received his bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago in 1942, his bachelor’s in 1949, and his master’s in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1950. Frequently painting in a symbolic style, Golub depicted the human body in various ways and obtained ideas from ancient Roman and Greek sculpture, photos of sports competitions, and homosexual pornography. He related his painting methodology with the sculptural process and used paint scraping and layering techniques, occasionally with the use of a meat hatchet, leaving some amounts of canvas undisturbed.
In the beginning of the 1980s, Golub shifted his focus toward depicting terrorism in various ways, from the oppressive government actions to metropolitan street violence. Torture, killing fields, bars, brothels, and chambers became his subjects and inspiration for work involving such motifs as racial inequality, violent aggression, oppression, exclusion, and gender ambiguity. The most notable works he created during this time were Interrogation, Mercenaries, Horsing Around, and Riot.
From the 1990s until his death, Golub produced work using the illusionistic style, with some forms rather semi-visible, obtained from medieval manuscripts, ancient carvings, and modern graffiti. When he got older, he started to consider the mortality of man, and began to create work centered on loss, death, and separation themes. The work of Golub is showcased in solo displays around the world, including his 1991work World Wide, which was displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. For this work, Golub used a process that was repeated in expositions at various other museums, wherein he made the details and images in his paintings larger, used translucent pieces of vinyl as screen, and hung them so every viewer will clearly see them. Several group expositions represented Golub, who was among the small number of White artists who became part of Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art (1994), displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist died on August 8, 2004.