White Squad III

Leon GOLUB: artist

On Display

About the work

For six decades Leon Golub maintained an intense commitment to figurative representation and emotionally charged subjects which reveal human existence in crisis. Golub's paintings are often contradictory, with a rich and vigorously worked surface of harmonic colour in uncomfortable proximity to violent events and 'real' people.

In the White Squad series he combined figures drawn from diverse sources such as press photos from China in the 1920s and news images of American police and sports personalities to articulate his rage against individual acts of violence. Golub never withdrew from ugly situations but instead, through scale and eye contact, he positions us, if not as accessories, at least as psychologically compromised participants.

The head, always central to Golub's imagery as a metaphor for the intellect and the imagination, became in the White Squad paintings the point of mediation between one figure's power and the other's vulnerability. He has defined the role of painting, and contemporary history painting in particular, as bearing witness. We are witnesses to the raw intensity of Golub's subjects in paintings which question how we shift responsibility to others elsewhere.
White Squad III
Artist/Maker and role
Leon GOLUB: artist
synthetic polymer paint on linen
309 x 440 cm (sight)
Display location
Credit line
Purchased through The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1997
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.