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The Alchemist belongs to an extensive series of paintings known as the Pictographs that Gottlieb made in the 1940s and 1950s, drawing upon his dual interests in Surrealism and geometric abstraction. An array of images derived from the unconscious are superimposed onto a flat, abstract space, freely divided into a grid. While his work is influenced by abstraction, 'primitivism' and myth, Gottlieb wanted to avoid culturally specific symbols. The symbols were presented in random order, so as not to predetermine or limit the response of the viewer.

May 2010