Gigantomachy II

Leon Golub American

Not on view

Painted in 1966, two years after Golub joined the Artists and Writers Protest Group, which was formed in the crucible of the Vietnam War, Gigantomachy II represents a group of generalized male nudes engaged in a furious battle. Thanks to Golub’s novel technique using both additive and subtractive processes, the figures seem incomplete, even flayed, their skin a riot of wounds and scars. As in an ancient frieze, the figures are arranged horizontally, spreading from end to end, at the same time that they are pressed close to the surface of the canvas. The epic quality of the work’s content is underscored by its monumental size. Gigantomachy II belongs to an eponymous series from the 1960s and early 1970s. Its title references the name of an epic battle between the Olympian Gods and a race of Giants narrated in Greek mythology. Here Golub harnesses the allegorical power of the Gigantomachy to critique injustice, violence, and cruelty.

Gigantomachy II, Leon Golub (American, Chicago, Illinois 1922–2004 New York), Acrylic on linen

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