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Leon Golub (American, 1922–2004)
LOT ID: 74899
Gigantomachy Figure, 1965

Acrylic, on linen
24 х 60 in. (60.96 x 152.4 cm.)
Signed, lower right
Lot description
Throughout his career, Leon Golub used his unique figural style to examine man’s existential relationship with the world. Drawing on diverse representations of man, from Greek mythology to contemporary media images, Golub utilizes the human form as a conduit for personal expression and reflection of current events. At the onset of the Vietnam War, Golub produced a series of figural paintings referencing Gigantomachy, the Greek mythological war fought between the gods and the giants. As demonstrated in this 1965 canvas, ‘Gigantomachy Figure’, Golub mimics the classical canon in his depiction of a commanding male figure engaged in the eternal human struggle for power. Adding a sense of human vulnerability, Golub skins his figure, making him appear almost flayed so that the inner circuits of muscle and tissue are exposed through dynamic brushstrokes of white, black, and red paint. Here, Golub viscerally expresses the forces, tensions, struggles, and wounds, both mental and physical, of the violence. With no adversary in sight, Golub’s focus on the central figure in this painting enforces his personal insights into the perverse ambiguity of war.

Leon Golub (1922-2004) is renowned for his powerful figurative paintings that explore themes of subversion, murder, racial inequality, gender ambiguity, and various forms of oppression. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Golub studied art history at the University of Chicago, earning his BA in 1942. Golub went on to study at the Art Institute of Chicago under the G.I. Bill and received a BFA in 1949 and MFA in 1950. Associated with a group of Chicago painters known as the Monster Roster group, Golub adhered to the group’s credo that a painting’s relevance is dependent on its connection to the external world and actual events. Golub’s animated and often aggressive representations of man, which draw on diversely sourced images of the human body, are expressive symbols of the human experience in world fraught by the evils of war. For his work, Golub was awarded the National Foundation of Jewish Culture’s Visual Art Award in 1995, the 1996 Hiroshima Art Prize, and the 2002 Dickinson College Arts Award. His work has been widely exhibited, with recent solo shows held at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2011); Museum het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands (2011); William Griffin Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (2011); The Drawing Center, New York, NY (2010); Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London, England (2010); Wako Works of Art, Tokyo, Japan (2006); and Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France (2006).

Select Public Collections:

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
The Broad Art Foundation (Santa Monica, CA)
National Museum of American Art (Washington, DC)
Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Tate Britain (London, UK)
Studio Stefania Miscetti (Rome, Italy)
Malmö Konsthall, (Malmö, Sweden)
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (Montreal, Canada)
Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
  • Gigantomachy Figure by Leon Golub
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