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eng Automatic Translation

Ten (Whitney Ten Dissenters)

1935 – 1940
  • Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz)
    co-founder, team member
  • Ben-Zion
    co-founder, team member
  • Ilya Bolotowsky
    co-founder, team member
  • Adolph Gottlieb
    co-founder, team member
  • Louis Harris
    co-founder, team member
  • Yankel "Jack" Kufeld
    co-founder, team member
  • Louis Schanker
    co-founder, team member
  • Joseph Solman
    co-founder, team member
  • Nahum Tschacbasov
    co-founder, team member
  • David Burliuk
  • David Burliuk
  • Lee Gatch
  • John Graham
  • Earl Kerkam
  • Karl Knaths
  • Edgar Levy
  • Jean Liberté
  • Ralph Rosenborg

A group of New York artists active during the Great Depression as a reaction to the popularity of regionalism that dominated the gallery space. The works presented by the group included figurative art, however some of its members later became known as abstract artists. Despite their fragility, they were a fruitful group noted by art historians in connection with its members Ilya Bolotovsky, Adolf Gottlieb and Mark Rothko.

During the existence of the group, seventeen artists have exhibited as part of the group in nine different exhibitions. The founders formed a core line-up of nine, sometimes joined by eight different guest artists on a short-term basis. Over time, some of the founders left, and the participating guest artists kept the group size at nine or ten for each show.

Selected dates:

Late 1934

Gallery owner Robert Ulrich Godso opened his own gallery, calling it "Gallery Secession". The gallery closed the following summer.


According to Joseph Solman, it was during this period that he and a group of fellow artists who exhibited with Godso, including Ilya Bolotovsky, decided to leave and organize their own exhibitions, calling themselves The Ten . The title was not literal; there were only nine members at the time of its founding, although "the band felt that a tenth person could be easily found later" . The second exhibition was at the Municipal Art Gallery, which adopted a policy based on the policy used for McDowell Club exhibitions: any self-organized group of eight to twelve artists could show their work.

The Ten held their first working meeting at Solman's studio, the first of the group's monthly meetings to be held regularly over the next five years. Despite difficulties displaying and selling their work during the Great Depression, they were one of several groups of artists active in 1930s New York, some of which had leftist or communist affiliations. The group was primarily guided by the practical considerations of displaying and selling their work. Similarly, although their work sometimes touched on social issues, they were not overtly political or doctrinaire - the artists were looking for new forms of expression that did not emulate European art or American regionalism. As Gottlieb said: "The whole problem seemed to be how to get out of these traps - Picasso, surrealism - and how to stay away from American provincialism, regionalism and socialist realism."

The Ten has held nine exhibitions of their work, including one international exhibition and a brief art auction.

December 16, 1935 - January 4, 1936

First show at the Montross Gallery.

January 7–18, 1936

Second show at the Municipal Art Gallery .

November 10–24, 1936

The only international show in Paris at the Bonaparte Gallery.

December 14, 1936

"Second Annual" Montross Show at the Montross Gallery .

April 26 - May 8, 1937

Gallery Georgette Passedois .

December 3–5, 1937

Charity art auction for children affected by the Spanish Civil War (85 Clark Street Gallery).

May 9–21, 1938

Seventh show at the Georgette Passedois Gallery.

November 5–26, 1938

The Whitney Dissenters show at the Mercury Gallery next door to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Itself newly established in 1931, The Whitney then held its annual exhibition (later to become the Whitney Biennale). Although most of the Ten were keen to get involved, only Bolotovsky was successful. During this period, Whitney placed great emphasis on regionalism, social realism, and established artists, at the expense of expressionist and abstract works. Thus, The Ten staged their own show in direct competition with Whitney "Ten: disagree with Whitney" (The Ten: Whitney Dissenters). Despite being positioned as a provocation, the exhibition was still intended primarily to achieve the practical goals of showcasing and selling the work. The artists also offered a distinct vision of contemporary American art that was not identical to regionalism. The exhibition catalog essay, co-authored with Mark Rothko and Bernard Braddon, read: "The New Academy plays out an old comedy trying to create something by naming it... In this battle of words, the symbol of the bunker dominates our Whitney museums of contemporary American art. .. The public, for which "modern American art" has been dogmatically defined by museums as representative art, preoccupied with local color, has an idea of art only provincial American and modern only in a strictly chronological sense ... The title of this exhibition is intended to draw attention to a significant part of works of art produced in America. Its implications are intended to go beyond one museum and one particular group of dissenters. It is a protest against the well-known equivalence of American painting and literal painting" - Mark Rothko and Bernard Braddon, Whitney Dissenters Exhibition Catalogue. The show has received more critical attention than any of the group's other shows.

October 23 - November 4, 1939

The last show at the Bonestell Gallery. Compared to the previous exhibition, the ninth and final one went relatively unnoticed. By this point, founders Gottlieb and Harris had departed, as the group had accomplished its mission: its members had branched out into personal styles and formed relationships with galleries.

Early 1940

Political tensions due to World War II stoked divisions among the participants. The group has ceased to function.