Born in Chicago, Illinois, Leon Golub studied at the University of Chicago and The Art Institute of Chicago. Except for a five-year period in Paris, he spent much of his career in New York City. He joined the art faculty of Rutgers University in 1964. Although best known as a painter, Golub also made prints, including a series of lithographs produced at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in California. His work has been exhibited throughout the world.
The brutal forces of the modern world constitutes the main subject of Golub's prints and paintings. His art often has a nightmarish quality, conveying man's cruelty to others or political corruption. Much of Golub's art confronts social or political issues, such as his anti-Vietnam War paintings of the 1960s. In Orator II the speaker's harsh features portray the ugliness and threat of power, emphasized by the jabbing brushstrokes that define one arm, which is thrust across the page. The other arm--suggested by blood-red slashes of the brush--juts out below. Wounded Sphinx reflects Golub's fascination with literary imagery, in this case the mysterious and troubling ancient creature associated with riddles. But that mythological being has here been translated into an image of terror.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]