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Head I 1961

1961 Leon Golub Born: Chicago, Illinois 1922 Died: New York, New York 2004 oil and lacquer on canvas 52 1/4 x 38 5/8 in. (132.7 x 98.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1968.52.19 Not currently on view


Gallery Label

In Head I 1961, thick smears of red, white, blue, and brown paint suggest a scarred human face or a colossal carved head worn down by time and weather. Golub was one of the "monster roster" of Chicago painters whose confrontational images pushed the comfort zone of gallery goers. He created his flayed bodies and heads with crusts of pigment that he flattened or shaved down with a meat cleaver.

Unlike the abstract expressionists who dominated American art in the 1950s, Golub remained a figural painter who captured the violent and contradictory impulses in human nature. When he painted Head I 1961, the paranoia and brinksmanship of the Cold War dominated American life, but critics often glossed over the political message in Golub's work, choosing instead to compare his tormented figures with the warring gods of classical sculpture.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Keywords

Abstract

Figure - head

painting

lacquer

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Leon Golub

Born: Chicago, Illinois 1922 Died: New York, New York 2004

More works in the collection by
Leon Golub