8 ft. 6 in. x 8 ft. x 37 in. (259.1 x 243.8 x 94 cm)
Gift of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation
Art © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson
In the late 1960s Adolph Gottlieb—the prominent painter associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement of the late 1940s and ’50s—began experimenting with three-dimensional works. Most were realized only in the form of small maquettes, and Petaloid is one of only three large-scale sculptures Gottlieb made. Gottlieb’s sculptures can be interpreted as an extension of the experimentation with form and shape in which he engaged in his paintings. In the early 1950s Gottlieb painted a series of imaginary landscapes divided into distinct horizontal celestial and terrestrial zones, a duality that crystallized in his Burst pictures of 1956–57, which depict sun-like disks suspended over explosive, irregular black masses. In Petaloid, a planar, rectilinear, horizontal element supports a bright yellow petal-likeform resting on the top edge, flanked by a black vertical rectangle on one side and a black circle on the other. The imagery of this sculpture roughly approximates that of his paintings: the bright yellow flower dominates the sculpture just as dazzling sunbursts illuminated his canvases.