Display curated by Professor Jon Bird, Middlesex University in association with Paul Moorhouse, Senior Curator of Twentieth-Century Collections, National Portrait Gallery.
This display is made possible with kind support from Hauser & Wirth, and with additional support from Middlesex University.
He was married to and collaborated with the artist Nancy Spero (1926 – October 18, 2009). Their son Stephen Golub is an economics professor at Swarthmore College. Their son Philip Golub is Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the American University of Paris and was a longstanding contributing editor of the influential journal Le Monde diplomatique. Their youngest son Paul Golub is a theater director and acting teacher working in France.
In his Vietnam series (1972–4) Golub confronted the immoral destructiveness of contemporary violence. This shift from an ideal concept to a precise exposition required him to specify weapons, uniform and napalm through references to news photography, which give a mordant, contemporary edge to the pathology of power. From 1970 Golub no longer used stretchers for his canvasesbut hung them directly from nails in the wall, sometimes cutting away portions of the paintings. This heightened immediacy continued in a series of some hundred portraits (1976–9) of world leaders such as Brezhnev, Franco, Pinochet and Kissinger.
Golub's aggressive images are charged with immediacy and brutality. The evil-doers look out from the painting with shocking intimacy, making the observer privy to their dirty secrets. Golub's work stresses political conscience and has an unswerving commitment to the expression of man's existential relationship to the world.
Leon Golub (exh. cat. by R. Melville, London, ICA, 1957)
Leon Golub (exh. cat. by J. A. Speyer, Philadelphia, Temple U. Gal., 1964)
Leon Golub: The Development of his Art (exh. cat. by L. Alloway, Chicago, IL, Mus. Contemp. A., 1974)
Leon Golub: Portraits of Power (exh. cat. by E. Bryant, Hamilton, NY, Colgate U., 1978)
M. Baigell: ‘The Mercenaries: An Interview with Leon Golub', A. Mag. [New York], lv/9 (1981), pp. 167–9
Leon Golub, Mercenaries and Interrogations (exh. cat., ed. J. Bird and M. Newman; London, ICA, 1982)
Golub (exh. cat., ed. L. Gumpert and N. Rifkin; New York, New Mus. Contemp. A., 1984)
D. Kuspit: Golub: Existential Activist Painter (New Brunswick, 1985)
Golub (exh. cat by P. Schjeldahl, New York, Barbara Gladstone Gal., 1986)
Copyright material reproduced courtesy of Oxford University Press, New York
Article provided by Grove Art Online www.groveart.com
Now, I do not claim, as an artist, that I represent the whole world. The world is too complex, too many things going on. I can only tell a bit of the factual situation about one aspect of the world. It is, I think, a relatively true aspect and an aspect that I have studied as extensively as I know how. So I deal with certain kinds of subject matter, which I try to do as intensely and extensively as I know how. I try to do it to emphasize a point, almost instantaneously, to make it a direct, perceptual thing, easily recognizable, something we are totally cognizant of, and something which operates immediately upon our lives. So it is an attempt to comment on the world in which we exist."
Excerpt: "Leon Golub Talks of Painting," Interview, Arts Insight Magazine,
Indianapolis, Part I, May and Part II, June 1982. Courtesy, Arts Indiana
Magazine; Courtesy, Helen Ferrulli.