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Harold Rosenberg

Art Historian and Critic

Born: February 2, 1906 - Brooklyn, NY, USA

Died: July 11, 1978 - New York, NY, USA

Analysis

The below artworks are the most important to Harold Rosenberg - that both overview his approach to what makes good art, and highlight his theories on the greatest achievements by these artist.


Artwork Images

Girl before a Mirror (1932)

Artist: Pablo Picasso

Artwork description & Analysis: This mid-life painting by Picasso, while made before "bstract Expressionism" or "Action Painting" were ever part of our vocabulary, is an apt example of painting as an event. Rosenberg often writes about the artist getting inside an image and developing a relationship with his canvas, and in Girl before a Mirror, Picasso is not only jumping into the canvas, but depicting his woman (possibly his beloved Marie Therese) doing likewise with her reflection.

Oil on canvas - The Museum of Modern Art, New York


Artwork Images

Organisation (1933-36)

Artist: Arshile Gorky

Artwork description & Analysis: The artist Arshile Gorky is a complex figure; born in Turkish Armenia, he later adopted the surname of a Russian writer, and schooled himself in the works of Joan Miró, Paul Cézanne, and Pablo Picasso before immersing himself in Surrealism and later, Abstract Expressionism. Gorky's artistic evolution, as it were, provides a wonderful example for Rosenberg's discussion of "Redcoatism" and "Coonskinismin" in the essay 'Parable of American Painting.' It suggests that Gorky has so fully digested the history of modern painting that he is no longer encumbered by the need to learn, and to follow its rules - he can begin anew.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Artwork Images

Trafalgar Square (1939-43)

Artist: Piet Mondrian

Artwork description & Analysis: One topic that fascinated Rosenberg was radicalism and revolution in art; not an easy thing to grasp. He didn't believe that radical art had anything to do with political radicalism, but with the artist's ability to "express his entire personality" in the canvas. When he looked upon Mondrian's strange and minimalist cityscapes, like the one seen above, he saw Mondrian "conceiving 'healthy and beautiful cities by opposing buildings and empty spaces in an equilibrated way.'" This was, according to Rosenberg, a New Order of painting.

Oil on canvas - The Museum of Modern Art, New York


Artwork Images

Fire Island (1946)

Artist: Willem de Kooning

Artwork description & Analysis: When Rosenberg first identified Action Painting as an event in and of the canvas, he was almost certainly considering the works of Willem de Kooning. In Fire Island, there is an event, or a series of them, in progress. In his essay 'Everyman a Professional,' Rosenberg writes that "The public receives the work in the form of ideas into which it has been translated. Thus every modern work of art is in essence criticism; the artist paints it as an assertion in paint about painting, and the audience admires it as an assertion in paint about words." When Rosenberg looks at a de Kooning work, he sees the artist not only communicating with the canvas, but with the act of painting itself, as well as with his audience.

Oil on paper - The Margulies Family Collection

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Artwork Images

Harold. Rosenberg (1956)

Artist: Elaine de Kooning

Artwork description & Analysis: This Rosenberg portrait by Elaine de Kooning is among the finest of all the artist's portraits. She was renowned among friends and fellow artists (among them Pollock, poet Frank O'Hara, and of course, Rosenberg) for painting her portraits while simultaneously conducting social salons. She would throw paint onto the canvas in that frantic, Abstract Expressionist manner, to the point where each work was an event in its own right. One writer commented, "It looked more like me than the real thing." We can interpret that Elaine de Kooning was creating events that brought her subjects closer to themselves, or what Rosenberg called "the exhilaration of an adventure over depths in which he [artist and/or subject] might find reflected the true image of his identity."

Oil on canvas - National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


Artwork Images

Red Balloon (1922)

Artist: Paul Klee

Artwork description & Analysis: In Rosenberg's essay "Revolution and the Concept of Beauty," the critic cites Paul Klee's quote: "I want to be as though newborn, knowing nothing, absolutely nothing about Europe .. to be almost primitive." According to Rosenberg, Klee is not expressing a desire to revert to his innocent, childhood self; what he desires is an ignorance of all the "revolutionary" moments in art that have come before him. He wants his art to be its own revolution, and not some dot in the time line of revolutionary European artists. Klee's Red Balloon is one of many works that, although it may appear innocent, was labeled "degenerate" by the Nazis in the artist's native Germany. The colors are indeed playful, and the geometric shapes seem to dance, as if from a "newborn" artist discovering his gift for the first time, but due to the small-mindedness of the Third Reich, Klee's work became revolutionary seemingly by accident.

Oil on muslin primed with chalk - The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York



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Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Picasso dominated European painting in the first half of the last century, and remains perhaps the century's most important, prolifically inventive, and versatile artist. Alongside Georges Braque, he pioneered Cubism. He also made significant contributions to Surrealist painting and media such as collage, welded sculpture, and ceramics.
TheArtStory: Pablo Picasso
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky was an Armenian-born American painter and a major influence on the development of Abstract Expressionism. In his own art he fused elements of Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism, and was close with key figures central to New York's burgeoning abstrct art scene, such as John Graham, Stuart Davis and Willem de Kooning.
TheArtStory: Arshile Gorky
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian, a founding member of the De Stijl movement, was a modern Dutch artist who used grids, perpendicular lines, and the three primary colors in what he deemed Neo-plasticism.
TheArtStory: Piet Mondrian
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning, a Dutch immigrant to New York, was one of the foremost Abstract Expressionist painters. His abstract compositions drew on Surrealist and figurative traditions, and typified the expressionistic 'gestural' style of the New York School.
TheArtStory: Willem de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning was an important Abstract Expressionist painter and collagist whose work combines gestural energy with formalist investigations. She was married to the famous New York painter Willem de Kooning.
TheArtStory: Elaine de Kooning
Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee
The Swiss-born painter Paul Klee worked in a variety of styles, including Expressionism, geometric abstraction, and collage. His most famous works have a mystical quality and make use of linear and pictorial symbols.
TheArtStory: Paul Klee
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was an influential French Post-Impressionist painter whose depictions of the natural world, based on internal geometric planes, paved the way for Cubism and later modern art movements.
TheArtStory: Paul Cézanne
Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg was a Romanian-born American cartoonist and illustrator. He is best known for his many New Yorker covers, including the famed "View of the World" illustration. Steinberg was a compartriot of several key figures in the Abstract Expressionism movement, including Motherwell, Gorky and Harold Rosenberg.
Saul Steinberg
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American poet, literary critic and short story writer. Widely considered one of America's leading Romanticists during the nineteenth century, Poe's writings became well known for dealing with mystery and the macabre, as exemplified in his most famous work, "The Raven." Poe's influence remains largely felt today, given his innovations in the genres of Gothic fiction and detective stories.
Edgar Allan Poe
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet and art critic during the mid-nineteenth century. His poetry depicted the harsh realities of urban poverty in nineteenth-century Paris, and often focused on the flanuer (one who wanders the city to experience it). The Baudelarian idea of the flaneur is a lasting legacy of the modern era.
Charles Baudelaire
Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, historian, economist, and revolutionary who along with Frederick Engels founded modern Communism. Although Marx's belief that socialism would one day replace capitalism did not come true, he is considered one of the modern era's most influential thinkers.
Karl Marx
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an eighteenth-century English poet, literary critic and philosopher. Known primarily for founding England's Romantic literary movement, along with friend and sometime rival William Wordsworth, Coleridge's writing became a major influence on American transcendentalist writers like Emerson and Thoreau. Among Coleridge's best known works was the prose poem "Kubla Khan." He is also credited with coining the popular literary term "suspension of disbelief."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire was a French writer and art critic who in the early twentieth century was a member of the avant-garde group of artists based in the Montparnasse community of Paris, which included Picasso, André Breton and Henri Rousseau. He is credited with coining the term "Surrealism."
Guillaume Apollinaire
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism is a broad term for a host of movements in early twentieth-century Germany and beyond, from Die Brücke (1905) and Der Blaue Reiter (1911) to the early Neue Sachlichkeit painters in the 1920s and '30s. Many Expressionists used vivid colors and abstracted forms to create spiritually or psychologically intense works, while others focused on depictions of war, alienation, and the modern city.
TheArtStory: Expressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism refers to a number of styles that emerged in reaction to Impressionism in the 1880s. The movement encompassed Symbolism and Neo-Impressionism before ceding to Fauvism around 1905. Its artists turned away from effects of light and atmosphere to explore new avenues such as color theory and personal feeling, often using colors and forms in intense and expressive ways.
TheArtStory: Post-Impressionism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism was an early twentieth-century art movement founded by Henri Matisse and André Derain. Labeled as "wild beasts", Fauve artists favored vibrant colors and winding gestural strokes across the canvas.
TheArtStory: Fauvism
Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism
Perhaps the most influential avant-garde movement of the century, Surrealism was founded in Paris in 1924 by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Much influenced by Freud, they believed that the conscious mind repressed the power of the imagination. Influenced also by Marx, they hoped that the psyche had the power to reveal the contradictions in the everyday world and spur on revolution.
TheArtStory: Surrealism
Dada
Dada
Dada
Dada was an artistic and literary movement that emerged in 1916. It arose in reaction to World War I, and the nationalism and rationalism that many thought had led to the War. Influenced by several avant-gardes - Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, and Expressionism - its output was wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting and collage. Emerging first in Zurich, it spread to cities including Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York and Cologne.
TheArtStory: Dada
Al Held
Al Held
Al Held
Al Held was an American painter and a leading figure in the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Held's paintings are considered to be in the style of 'Hard-Edge' and 'Post-painterly abstraction.' Held achieved both acclaim and criticism for his experiments with black and white imagery, or what he called "spatial conundrums."
Al Held
Jack Reilly
Jack Reilly
Jack Reilly
Jack Reilly is a Los Angeles-based American painter best known for his abstract works that employ methods of hard-edge painting, shaped canvases, and visual illusion. Reilly is also well known as a practictioner of color-field and geometric abstract painting, in addition to his experimentations with video art, digital art and other Postmodern genres.
Jack Reilly
Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe is an American author and journalist, and a founder of the so-called New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 70s. Known equally for his fiction and non-fiction, Wolfe gained noteriety and infamy within the art world for his biting 1975 book The Painted Word, in which he critiqued the art industry's insularity and excessive use of critical jargon.
Tom Wolfe
John Russell
John Russell
John Russell
John Russell was an art historian and critic who wrote for the London Sunday Times from 1950-1974, then for the New York Times from 1974-1990, coming on board immediately after the departure of John Canaday. Although seldom cited in the annals of Abstract Expressionist history, Russell's work as a critic was crucial to the continued enthusiasm for modern art well into the 1970s and 80s.
TheArtStory: John Russell
Thomas B. Hess
Thomas B. Hess
Thomas B. Hess
Thomas B. Hess was an art critic and historian, and a proponent of Abstract Expressionism. He served as editor of the influential magazine ART News.
TheArtStory: Thomas B. Hess
Herbert Read
Herbert Read
Herbert Read
Herbert Read was an English poet and art critic. As an idealist, he considered external reality to be a construct of the mind and was strongly influenced by Existentialism. Despite the fact that he was an anarchist, he was knighted for his contributions to English literature.
Herbert Read
Barbara Rose
Barbara Rose
Barbara Rose
Barbara Rose is an American art historian. Her 1965 article "ABC Art" was an important early study of Minimalism.
Barbara Rose
Postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a broad period of artmaking that occured after the period known as modernism - a period that was driven by a radical and forward thinking approach, ideas of technological positivity, and grand narratives of Western domination and progress. Neo-Dada and later Pop artists are considered the first postmodern movements.
TheArtStory: Postmodernism
Abstract Illusionism
Abstract Illusionism
Abstract Illusionism
Abstract Illusionism was a term coined by critic and gallerist Louis K. Meisel. It represents the little-known artistic movement from the 1970s in which painters used hard-edge and expressionistic techniques to create abstract works that achieved the illusion of three-dimensional space. Such practictioners of the style included Al Held, Jack Reilly and Jack Lembeck.
Abstract Illusionism