Experimental Methodologies

Californian artist Jane Gottlieb uses her colourist skills to create an idyllic vision by enhancing, collaging and painting her photographs with Photoshop. The solo exhibition Jane Gottlieb Photographs France is at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara, until 29 April. We speak with her about the exhibition.

A: How is the exhibition going thus far?

JG: The show is going very well and I am happy with the whole experience. I am proud with the results of a year of work on the images and this exhibit. Because this is a university museum there are a lot of interesting events going on in the museum every week: lectures, dance, theatre, poetry performances, and so on. Also being on a university campus means I have a nice new young audience.

A: The opening was postponed due to flooding in Montecito – how did this affect you personally as a resident, and from a practical point of view as an exhibiting artist?

JG: My artwork has been very well received, even though the entire area was devastated and shocked by the tragic fires and mudslides in December and January. I believe the bright uplifting colours have contributed to the positive reactions and being transported to France is also a fantastic escape.

We will be having a closing reception on 26 April instead of the 12 January planned opening, which was three days after the floods!

A: Why is France the focus of this exhibition?

JG: France became the focus of the show after the Museum Director and Chief Curator spent a few afternoons going through my art and listening to my stories. They appreciated this body of work as it represented a lifetime of work.

All of the photos are original; Kodachrome 35mm slides taken over a few decades, that I had continued to change over the years with all the new technology as it became available. They wanted to show the progression from the original slide, to my hand-painted Cibachrome prints to today’s archival dye sublimation prints on aluminium.

We could have done this with many places that I used to travel to often, such as Italy, Spain, England, Greece, Israel, tropical islands and France. I do have a preference for France as it is so photogenic and gorgeous!

A: You have been exhibiting your work for over 30 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen in the exhibition of art? What has stayed the same?

JG: The biggest changes have been Photoshop and the Internet. I used to mail out big packages with prints, articles, duplicate slides, museum catalogues, books and whatever to galleries and museums around the USA and Europe. Then I would wait for return mail! A slow and expensive process.

I was waiting for Photoshop and have been using it since the early 1990s. It’s so fantastic and allows the artist to create art in ways that were never even imaginable before Photoshop. It’s magical, stimulating and inspiring!

I love the Internet and my ability to show my art so easily with a website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and the many, many art sites. You can connect with other artists from all over the world – I love that.

What hasn’t changed is the actual hassle of the hustle that is never-ending. Who you know always helps: who buys your art, where you are shown and how you make that happen; all still difficult to do.

It’s persevering for all these years, through the ups and downs of an artist’s career that helps one feel confident, established and respected. I believe that comes with time, experience and age.

A: Colour is of paramount importance in your work, home and life. Do you see yourself continuing the current work you do with photography for some time, or do you think your relationship with colour will lead you to new avenues of creative expression?

JG: Colour is a healthy, fun addiction and I doubt if I will every give it up. Colour is energetic, uplifting, exciting, pleasurable, pretty and it makes me feel good.

Clearly I am very visual and intuitive, and I feel colours. I am sure that sometimes my palette and the vivid intensity will change with the mood of the photo on which I am working, but I expect I will express myself with colour forever.


The work of Jane Gottlieb appears in the Artists’ Directory in Issue 81 of Aesthetica. To pick up a copy, visit our shop: www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop

1. Place des Vosges.
2. Exhibition view.
3. Paris Pyramid at Dusk.
4. Exhibition view.
5. Paris Pyramid at Midnight.
6. Jane Gottlieb at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum.