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Nathan Gluck - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Photo of Nathan Gluck by Gerald Melanga, May 2005

Nathan Gluck (June 24, 1918 – September 27, 2008) was an American artist, designer and illustrator who 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 played an instrumental role in helping to shape and create many of Warhol’s most famous illustrations and designs as well as his early transitional Pop pieces.  He also quietly devoted his life to exploring the art of collage, creating a number of distinct bodies of work over a period of 70 years, beginning in the late 1930s until his passing in 2008. His earliest collages, created in the 1930s, pay homage to Max Ernst, de Chirico, and Picasso, while those produced from the mid 1990s to 2008 display the finely honed sensibility, originality, and confidence of an artist completely at ease with his skills and knowledge.  Gluck’s practice also included window design, drawings, gouache paintings, monoprints, linocuts and inkblots. His works are a reflection of his wide ranging interests and a testament to his voracious appetite for culture—his love and deep knowledge of music, opera and theater, modern and classic literature, travel, food, and world culture, and, above all, his encyclopedic appreciation of art. All of these interests take their rightful place in his work, along with a broad range of stylistic influences, from Cubism and Surrealism to Victoriana and Pop. He was the quintessential cosmopolitan New Yorker, charming and erudite, and part of the first generation of LGBT artists that rose to prominence after World War II and helped transform New York City into the gay metropolis of the late 20th century.

Gluck was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1918.  His mother was Julia Margaretten, a housewife, then secretary, and a member of the Horowitz-Margaretten family, famous for matzohs and other Passover products. His father was Morris Gluck, a prominent businessman at a real estate company owned by his brother-in-law, who lost the business during the Great Depression. In the 1930s, Gluck attended the Art Students League (under Vaclav Vytlacil), the Cooper Union in Manhattan, and the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.  During World War II he served in Europe and the South Pacific and upon his return began a successful career as an illustrator, designer and art director, beginning with the L. Bamberger department store in New Jersey, which included designing a poster that is now in the Museum of Modern Art Poster Collection.  He worked as art director and illustrator for the George N. Kahn Agency, New York, and briefly at the Rockmore Company, an ad agency where Andy Warhol freelanced, beginning that professional relationship.  In 1950, he was selected by the ICA Boston to head a design studio at Cheney Silks designing fabric for men’s neckwear.  In 1954, he designed the cover for Fortune Magazine for the visionary art director and former Futurist designer and later, noted children's author and illustrator, Leo Leonni.  He also designed windows for Gene Moore at Bonwit Teller and Tiffany & Co. and created dozens of original Christmas cards for The Museum of Modern Art, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman, Georg Jensen, Cartier, Brentano’s, and Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, among others.  Prior to retiring at the age of 76 in 1995, he was the archivist at the American Insitute of Grapic Artists (AIGA), whe he worked for over 30 years. During his life, Gluck came to know many artists and art world luminaries whom he admired, including Joan Miro, Marcel Duchamp, Pierre Matisse, George Wittenborn, Ray Johnson, and Philip Johnson, as well as Paul Rand and numerous other greats from the design world.  After Warhol died, the Warhol Foundation turned to Gluck, with his first-hand knowledge and expertise, to help authenticate Warhol’s pre-Pop works, which he continued to do until shortly before he passed away.

In the last decade of his life Gluck realized an extraordinary body of work and several solo exhibitions, including Ephemeral Musings (2017) at the Reinhold Brown Gallery, New York, NY; Nathan Gluck: Collages (2001) at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, PA; and Limited Time Offer (2008) at the Athenaeum of Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA.  

Nathan Gluck’s works are 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. 

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