FRIEDEL DZUBASGerman-American 1915 - 1994

FRIEDEL DZUBASGerman-American 1915 - 1994

Dzubas’s worked within the aesthetic framework of modernism, surrounded by so-called color field painters who themselves began as second-generation Abstract Expressionists. The group of artists with which Dzubas associated during his career included Morris Louis, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, and Helen Frankenthaler. Dzubas, in concert with these artists, moved away from the overt expressionistic gestures associated with Pollock and Willem de Kooning to evolve a painting style that emphasized the material nature of the medium. Staining pigment into raw canvas was a primary trend as was pouring paint, moving it around with sponge, squeegies, and brooms, and thinning the pigment with turpentine or water to create the vaunted “flatness” that would guarantee the works authenticity as high art during this period.

Without a formal artistic education, Dzubas relied for his training on the few years in the early 1930s when he was apprenticed to a wall decorations painter. Perhaps this explains his passion for the frescos of Giotto and the later Venetian school. His heightened sense of coloration with its high-keyed energy is evident in German Expressionism, which filled the great museums of Berlin. His aesthetic orientation toward large-scale works comes from both Pollock and later Venetians. His nearly sixty-foot long painting, Apocalypse cum Figuras, Crossing, 1975, commissioned by Lewis P. Cabot for the National Shawmut Bank in Boston, was the fullest expression of this ambition to realize his vision in mural-sized works. Pollock, in referring to his own “mural painting,” spoke for Dzubas’s mature aesthetic when in 1943 he said, “The direction that painting seems to be taking here is away from the easel, into some sort, some kind of wall-painting…I enjoy working big, and whenever I have a chance, I do it whether it’s practical or not.” Dzubas’ compositional sense, however, was fired most imaginatively by the Venetian painting of the eighteenth century, specifically the transcendent ceiling frescos of Giambattista Tiepolo. The looseness of the brush stroke, the elevation upwards of Dzubas’ color shapes, the transparency of his coloration in counterpoint with deeper saturations, and the plotting of various hues for emphasis and rhythmic effects points to the depth of Tiepolo’s influence.