Friedel Dzubas

(1915 – 1994)

Movements associated with
New York School
Color Field painting
Post-Painterly Abstraction

Dzubas was living in NYC during the height of Abstract Expressionism. He met and befriended Clement Greenberg in the 1945. He also knew several of the Abstract Expressionist big hitters like, Pollock, de Kooning, and Kline and took inspiration from them especially in his early work. Over the Hill, 1957 is the best example of his early work in our collection. The paintings are full of gesture and energy.

Dzubas shared a studio with famed painter, Helen Frankenthaler, and witnessed her first stain-paintings whereupon she poured thinned paint onto an unstretched canvas on the floor (like Pollock). Both she and Dzubas understood she was had made an important development in painting, and he started experimenting with the style as well. Along with Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland, Dzubas was a pioneer of stain-painting technique, color field painting or chromal abstraction.

His work from the 1960s becomes more calligraphic, strokes intermingle with shapes suggesting explosive form. This is observed in Kay’s Travels, 1961. Later in the 60s his style slows down, transitioning into open shapes of floating color. These works appear more decorative, they are beautiful color harmonies, and more simple compositions of form. One Way, 1963 and Roundabout, 1962 are exemplary of this stage of his work.

Into the later 1970s and early 80s Dzubas refined his chromal abstraction of the 1960s and created compositions that utilized both hard-edge abstraction alongside the looser edges of painted form. These are color masterpieces and achieve pictorial dynamism through arrangement of shape and color. Number One, 1972 and Midnight I, 1981 are both great examples of this work.

In the 1980s Dzubas style changed once again, returning to a more gestural figuration. Greenberg felt that the work Dzubas created after 1977 was his most successful and that he was able to fuse the painterly, expressive brushstroke with the linearity of works form the past 15-20 years.

Dzubas was born in Berlin and studied at the Prussian Academy of Fine Art under Paul Klee while in Dusseldorf from 1936-39. In 1939 Dzubas fled to the US via London and became and American citizen.

In 1948, he answered art critic Clement Greenberg’s anonymous advertisement for a summer roommate.  It was the height of the Abstract Expressionist Movement in New York, and through Greenberg Dzubas met Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb and Barnett Newman.  Later, in the early 1950s, Dzubas shared a studio with Helen Frankenthaler, associating with some of the younger generation of abstract painters in New York including Jules Olitski and Kenneth Noland.

In the 1960s, Dzubas began exhibiting in NY. These works are characterized for a brevity of gesture and an emphasis on luminosity of oil paint applied in thin veils of color. Dzubas is a noted color field painter in the NY School. He evolved into a deft Post-Painterly Abstractionist and returned to more gesturally abstract works towards the end of this career. Throughout he taught at many esteemed institutions, including Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and Cornell College, Ithaca, New York.

Selected public collections
The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of Art, NY; the Guggenheim Museum, NY; other and many private collections.

First retrospective in 1974, Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Solo exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in 1984
Participated in exhibitions at Leo Castelli Gallery, The Stable Gallery, and the Ninth Street show Annual Exhibitions throughout the 1950s