From the Archives: Adolph Gottlieb’s First Solo Exhibition, 1930

 
 

Adolph Gottlieb, South Ferry Waiting Room, c. 1929, oil on cotton, 36 x 45"
©Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by ARS, NY, NY

 

On May 1, 1930, The Dudensing Galleries on East 57th Street ran concurrent exhibitions called "Paintings by Konrad Cramer and Adolf Gottlieb." The exhibitions lasted exactly one month, and featured eighteen paintings created by Adolph Gottlieb during the late 1920s and 1930. Gottlieb was awarded this solo show as one of two first-prize winners in the Dudensing National Competition of 1929. This was Gottlieb’s first solo exhibition.

Alexander Borodulin, a close friend of Gottlieb’s penned the following review of the show for the English section of Der Tog, a Yiddish Newspaper. In it, Borodulin claims, “Mr. Gottlieb's statement is already something to challenge America’s best…The ‘South Ferry Station’ is eloquent testimony to his powers, and merits the careful attention of every person in New York who professes an interest in art.”

Though the show was well-received, Gottlieb revealed the impact of this early success in a 1962 interview with Martin Friedman:

“In a way [the Dudensing Gallery exhibition and competition] provided me with a very severe test which I think artists frequently are exposed to and the results are usually fatal. What I mean by that is that as a young man in my first show I was picked up and given a show in one of the very prominent galleries on 57th street. The show was very well-received by the critics; nevertheless, not a single painting was sold, and not very long thereafter the Dudensing Gallery dropped the handling of my work and I was back exactly where I started from. In a way this was a tremendous set-back because there was no follow through on anything that had happened as a result of my winning the competition, my work having been well received, and so on. So therefore, I was thrown back into oblivion. And it took me about 10 years, I think, to get back on my feet professionally and start exhibiting again and then I had to try to get a show again and I had to do it on an entirely different level...Whatever the consequences were to be as to my decision to be an artist, I was prepared to take them.”