Nov 16, 2023 - Sale 2653

Sale 2653 - Lot 65

Price Realized: $ 10,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 8,000
Franco #2 (1954).

Acrylic on burlap, 1976. 435x380 mm; 17x15 inches. Signed, titled and dated in acrylic, verso.

Provenance: Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, with the label; private collection, New York.

Exhibited: "Currents," The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Spring 1985.

As a teenager, Golub (1922-2004) encountered Pablo Picasso's Guernica (1937) while the powerful anti-war painting was on exhibit at the Chicago Arts Club in 1939. Though the painting was exhibited internationally, Picasso would not allow the work to be shown in Spain until its dictatorship under Francisco Franco came to an end. Golub had created a number of similar works about the Holocaust and horrors of World War II, during which he worked as a cartographer with the United States Army in Europe. Golub married artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009) in the 1950s, and both became known for their works protesting war and violence. During the twenty year span of the Vietnam War, their art, like Guernica, which was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, became especially poignant. Between 1976 and 1979, Golub completed over one hundred portraits of public figures, including dictators. These portraits, based on photographs, with framing and materials purposely chosen by Golub, explore the figures' public facing, performative identities, at odds with and ultimately destroying, their true selves. When viewed as a series, in each successive portrait, the leader becomes more lifeless, ultimately resembling a lifeless mask of their former selves. In the present lot, Franco's gaze looks down at the viewer and Golub captures the leader's slightly downturned lips and eyes, which signal an insecurity despite his the authoritative posturing. The small amount of humanity present in this painting is absent in Golub's subsequent paintings depicting an aged and dehumanized Franco in 1975.