Leon Golub ( geb.1922
Born: 1922, Chicago, Illinois
B.A., University of Chicago, 1942; B.F.A.1949 and M.F.A. 1950, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Lives and works in New York, New York
As a leader of Chicago's figurative movement in the 1950s, Leon Golub challenged the dominant styles of that time, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Described as an existential and activist painter, Golub's interest in the depiction of the figure never waned, and he has recently regained recognition for his large-scale, politically charged works that directly address issues of war, racism, sexism and power. Political terror and man's abuse of power are the primary subjects rendered in his monumental and highly topical paintings.
White Squad V was inspired by actual events in Central America. Over-sized figures monumentalize the painting's documentary content about power and torture on the fringes of Western politics in Latin America. Characteristic of Golub's works, White Squad V captures the decisive moment of violent action and calls attention to situations, which the media seldom captures. Golub renders his typically huge, unstretched canvases by applying layers of thick paint, then dissolving it and scraping it down with a meat cleaver. The process of building and taking away paint results in a dense, flat surface that often exposes the raw fiber of the canvas. His painterly concerns with texture and surface yield a highly tactile surface that has a subtle, but disturbing reference to raw flesh and wounded skin.
Golub's work has been collected in depth by the Broad Foundation, which includes 24 works among its holdings, spanning a twenty-year period in the artist's career. Golub's work makes a significant contribution to the collection's emphasis on social and political art of the twentieth century.