Celebrating Esther Gottlieb

Esther Gottlieb sailing in Provincetown, late 1940s.

Esther Gottlieb sailing in Provincetown, late 1940s.

Happy birthday to the co-founder and first President of the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Esther Gottlieb! Born April 15th, 1907 in Danbury, Connecticut, Esther was one of six sisters born at the turn of the 20th century, all of whom became professionals.

After moving to New York in 1924 and studying art at Pratt Institute, Esther began a career teaching needle trades at a vocational high school. Eventually, she became Dean of Girls at what is now the Fashion Institute of Technology. She met Adolph Gottlieb at a party in Greenwich Village and they married in 1932.

Adolph and Esther were a team in many of their lifes' endeavors. At different times Esther helped in the studio, was the self-taught registrar of Adolph’s art, and organized dinners at their home that served as gatherings of their many friends including Barnett and Annalee Newman, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Dorothy Dehner, Milton and Sally Avery, and many other artists, curators, gallerists, and writers. When Adolph became involved in racing small sailboats, Esther also learned to work a sailboat and became his crew.

During the Great Depression, Esther had a full-time job, while Adolph and many of their friends did not. Through Adolph, Esther’s salary was loaned or given to several friends in times of need. This generosity on the part of both Adolph and Esther was the seed of what later became the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation.

After Adolph’s death, Esther guided the formation of the Foundation. For twelve years, from the time of its incorporation until her passing in 1988, Esther Gottlieb served as President of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, leaving a legacy of assisting artists for decades to come.

Find out more about the grant programs Esther helped establish to support mature artists.