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Adolph Gottlieb

These paintings from the last twenty years of Adolph Gottlieb's life-beginning with Black, Blue, Red, 1956, supposedly the first of his signature “Bursts” (but in fact a rather messy, hesitant version of the motif), and ending with the deceptively simple Max-Minimal, painted in 1973, a year before his death—raise the question of the late style of a modem artist and more particularly that of an Abstract Expressionist. The cliché is that the modern artist makes an innovative breakthrough in his youth and then lives off the result for the rest of his life, refining it into a brand image. This is another way of saying he loses his power to the inevitable entropy that overtakes a short-lived creative “burst.” After all, how long can creative energies last, especially for artists who think of themselves not as buildmg on tradition but rather as single-handedly founding their own?

According

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