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99 Problems but Art Ain't One

On what would have been Leon Golub’s 99th Birthday, AEL would like to recognize the artist and his legacy. A leader of Chicago’s figurative movement of the 1950’s, Golub is rightfully revered for creating artwork politically pungent and discernibly gripping. Themes of war, racism, sexism and power are at the core of Golub’s art canonical contributions.



Golub's highly expressive figurative works often sought to condemn the misuse of power through violence and the subsequent propagation of injustice — with the United States, in many instances, in the limelight of these criticisms. In recent weeks, we have witnessed these imminent injustices, which Golub spent a lifetime exploring through his art. We have watched in disbelief and scoffed at the indignant actions of human beings, whose potential is too often squandered by misguided leadership.


Harkening back to his work as an army cartographer during WWII, Golub understood early the powerful ability that the visual medium has to provide its viewers guidance. He honoured this knowledge through his role as an artist at the helm of that very medium, through to the end of his life.




Published by AEL in 1994, Golub’s Wasted Youth marks a pivotal moment in the artist’s career: it is the first image rendered on a computer by the artist. The making of this edition not only defied creative stagnancy but delivered — with neon punch and potency of toxic proportions — a powerful moment for the viewer to address accountability. Golub once exclaimed, “Monsters exist because we create them, through war and violence, and distortion […]” This distorted image, still, offers a silver lining if you consider that whatever is wasted can only be wasted by existing. In that existence alone, there is hope yet. And in art, there is hope, always.


- Suzy Sabla


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