CECI EST LE GANT ET LE GANT, 1999
collage with leather glove
10 X 8.5 IN / 25.4 X 21.6 CM
Nathan Gluck achieved acclaim as Andy Warhol’s principle studio assistant from the early 1950s through the mid–1960s in Warhol’s pre–Pop commercial art studio. Gluck and Warhol met through mutual friends in 1950 and were employed in the same world of window design that fueled Warhol’s early reputation. During this time they also exhibited together at the Loft Gallery. Two years later, in 1952, Gluck went to work for Warhol in the top–floor railroad flat on Lexington Avenue that the artist shared with his mother, Julia Warhola. Over the next dozen years Gluck played an instrumental role in helping to shape and create many of Warhol’s most famous illustrations, ads and designs. He also assisted Andy Warhol with his early transitional Pop pieces (1960-63), before Warhol established “The Factory”.
In his book, Warhol: Conversations about the Artist, Patrick S. Smith writes: “Nathan Gluck’s work may be considered as being synonymous with [Warhol’s] commercial art. In fact, it is almost impossible to separate Nathan Gluck’s “Warhols” from Warhol’s “Warhols”.
Gluck played a key role in the development of some of the techniques Warhol employed in his pre–Pop work. Among the techniques he taught Warhol were how to marbleize paper (which Warhol employed in works exhibited at the Loft Gallery), painting on glass, and the use of rubber stamps carved from gum or ‘soap’ erasers–employed ubiquitously throughout the 1950s in Warhol’s famous ink drawings of flowers, birds, butterflies, and shoes–which allowed Warhol to complete large amounts of work in a short time. This archaic form of reproduction may very well have introduced Warhol to the concept of the ‘multiple’ and influenced his decision to use silk screen later on in his fine art. Indeed, this ‘convenience’ was not lost on Warhol as he absolutely hated the time–consuming manual labor tied to painting. John Smith, former chief archivist of the Andy Warhol Museum, has noted: “In certain ways, Nathan was to the 1950s what Gerard Malanga became in the 60s.”[more]
In the 1960s, Gluck helped Warhol produce the Brillo Boxes as part of a group of replicas of commonplace supermarket packaging. Nathan was in charge of selecting the carton prototypes, but Warhol rejected his campier choices in favor of the most banal examples. In Patrick S. Smith’s interview Nathan recalled that Warhol chose “very nice boxes. You know, for grapefruit with maybe palm trees or crazy flamingos or some kind of oranges–maybe they would be called Blue Orchid Oranges, and the box would have a blue orchid on them.”
Over the course of 70 years Nathan Gluck produced hundreds of original collages combining a wide assortment of techniques and materials. His earliest collages, created in the 1930s, pay homage to Max Ernst and Picasso, while those produced from the mid 1990s through July 2008 (Gluck passed away on September 27, 2008) display the finely honed sensibility, originality and confidence of an artist completely at ease with his skills and knowledge. “Composed of a staggering variety of printed ephemera collected by the artist and his friends, and combining a range of printed detritus–matchbook covers, wine and shipping labels, ticket stubs, fruit stickers, club flyers, photos and newspaper ads, to name just a few–from around the world and the past several decades, these works play on words, forms, colors and, above all, on styles. Their vintage is sometimes Belle Époque, sometimes the swinging 60s and sometimes the dubious fin de siècle, as well as the very playful and satirical use of more recent imagery from the age of cell phones and the Internet.’ (Roberta Smith, chief art critic, The New York Times)
“Nostalgia is a risk in collage, but Gluck’s ironic sense of humor prevents them from ever becoming cloying. Camp they indeed are. The verbal humor of the printed word (check out the titles) constantly comes into play. Above all, Gluck’s work is fastidious. The scraps of paper are meticulously arranged on the sheet–his color is fearless.” –Graham Shearling, art critic, The Pittsburgh Tribune–Review
In 1997, Nathan Gluck had his first solo exhibition (since the 1940s) of 85 collages, entitled “Ephemeral Musings”, at the Reinhold Brown Gallery in New York, which received a glowing review in The New York Times from chief art critic Roberta Smith. In the spring of 2001, another solo exhibition, “Nathan Gluck: Collages”, opened at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, PA. His last exhibition was held from September 19 through November 8, 2008, at the Athenaeum of Music and Arts Library, in La Jolla, CA.
He has appeared in dozens of print and television interviews detailing the career of Andy Warhol, and his work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Athenaeum of Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, CA; and numerous private collections worldwide.
Nathan Gluck was born on June 24, 1918 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In the 1930s, Gluck attended the Art Students League and the Cooper Union in Manhattan, and the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, NY. During World War II he served in Europe and the Pacific and upon his return to New York began a successful career as an illustrator and art director. In 1954, while assisting Andy Warhol, he designed the cover for Fortune Magazine; he also designed windows for Bonwit Teller and Tiffany’s, textiles, and dozens of Christmas greeting cards for Tiffany & Co, The Museum of Modern Art, Bergdorf Goodman, Georg Jensen, Cartier, Brentanno’s, and Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, among others.
Art Students League, New York, NY
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Cooper Union, New York, NY