• Julia Debski

The Colorful New Addition to UCSB Library

We all love having a little extra color in our lives, there is no doubt about it. No one knows the power of color better than Santa Barbara-based artist Jane Gottlieb. With an international art career spanning over thirty years, Gottlieb is well known for her brilliant use of contrasting colors in both her work and her home.


Gottieb Library © Jane Gottieb


For her latest commission for UC Santa Barbara Library, unveiled October 7th, 2020, Gottlieb worked her colorful magic in Adobe once again. This massive new work, titled Check It Out, measures 14 feet by 15 feet and is composed of eight archival prints printed on aluminum, assembled to fit snuggly together. As for its creation, the artist took a single sideview of the building from the original reference image and mirrored it, creating a dynamic focal point. The palm trees and clean geometric lines from the campus architecture draw the eye out into the foliage along the horizon.


Pompidou View video © Jane Gottieb


There is something distinctly California in the feel to this work, from the pop of color to the textures both naturally occurring and artificially created, to the architecture of the featured building where this work now resides. The blue sky extends for an infinity, the shadows have nearly all disappeared, and it is eye-catching in its florescence. It is reminiscent of SoCal’s long blazing afternoons, spent lounging at the beach or in the back garden, or in the case of UC Santa Barbara students, on the lawns of campus.


-Stairway to Hotel du Cap video © Jane Gottieb


Gottlieb’s artistic practice has evolved over the decades alongside digital technology – having started out as a painter before evolving into a photographer and editor, but always always including bright colors in her work. Now she puts her photographs into Photoshop and has her way with them – collaging, painting, editing, and enhancing them into glorious assemblages of color.


There is a battling simplicity and complexity to Gottlieb’s art that perhaps makes it so iconic and recognizably hers. The scenes displayed in the works, based off of her own photographs, are familiar to the viewer as a memory or encounter in their day-to-day life. This recognition is then challenged by the editing and intentional use of color that transports the viewer into the realm of the surreal. Indeed, there is a history of these attention grabbing pigments being used throughout art history—Dahli within Surrealism, Warhol within Pop, and so on—and perhaps these paved the way to a degree.


However, it is an irrevocable fact that Gottlieb has mastered the use of color for her art and that her practice and style is one entirely and uniquely her own.