Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?

Main Gallery

LIVE & DIE LIKE A LION?Leon Golub, LIVE & DIE LIKE A LION?, 2002, oil stick on Bristol. Collection of Anthony and Judith Seraphin, Seraphin Gallery Philadelphia, PA. Art © Estate of Leon Golub/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photography by Cathy Carver.

Leon Golub (1922–2004) is known for large-scale paintings protesting injustice and inhumanity and a figurative style inspired by classical sculpture and images from mass media.

While drawing had always been a part of Golub's artistic practice, it became a primary activity from 1999 until his death. “I want to throw drawings in all directions,” he said in 2004. “That’s my ultimate intent: to have them be political, to have them be erotic, to have them be neurotic, to have them be just rotten.”

With scrawled, often farcical captions, the forty-two drawings in Live & Die Like a Lion? depict women, couples, and mythical creatures in sexualized poses, majestic lions, savage dogs, and defiant and defeated men, skulls, and skeletons on colorful, smeared backgrounds. The 8-by-10-inch, oil-stick and ink works mark a stylistic shift for the artist toward a more improvisational form and fluid line and show him incorporating personal themes, such as sexual desire and his own mortality.

The exhibition also includes the only existing unfinished Golub painting as well as examples of the artist’s source materials from a variety of magazines and publications.

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Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion? is curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director, The Drawing Center, NY, and is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Dedalus Foundation. Its presentation at the Block Museum is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art on behalf of Mark Angelson, the Terra Foundation for American Art on behalf of William Osborn, the Myers Foundations, and the Evanston Arts Council.