She wrote a celebrated college textbook, but, extending her reach beyond academia, she preferred exploring the unfolding art of the present.
Barbara Rose, the influential art historian and critic who began her career as a champion of Minimalism and wrote about culture with an authority informed by her close friendships with two generations of artists in New York and abroad, died on Friday in Concord, N.H. She was 84.
Her death, in a hospice, was confirmed by her husband, Richard Du Boff, who said that she had had breast cancer for a decade.
Ms. Rose is probably best known as the author of the textbook “American Art Since 1900,” which became a campus perennial in the 1970s. But, extending her reach beyond academia, she preferred exploring the unfolding art of the present.
She was an art critic for Vogue and New York magazines and produced eight documentary films. A devotee of the ritual known as studio visits, she was always traipsing to artists’ lofts to look at their latest paintings and probe for helpful information.
“The reason I interviewed artists is because I really wanted to know the answer to my questions,” she said in a recent lecture. “I never thought of them as interviews.”
Art critics as much as artists are shaped indelibly by their moment of entry onto the art scene. Ms. Rose formed her approach at a time when Minimalism was ascendant, and she married one of its key exponents, the artist Frank Stella. With their combined displays of wit, knowledge and slanting opinion, they were a glamorous couple but, according to Ms. Rose, certainly not unflawed.
“We had babies right away,” she told New York magazine, “and everyone in SoHo said, ‘Oh, look, the babies had babies!’”
In her criticism and essays, Ms. Rose took a formalist approach, maintaining that abstract painting is inherently superior to realism. As the decades passed, her faith in connoisseurship came to seem conservative and a rebuff to the present era, in which the meaning of any work of art is deemed inseparable from issues of race and gender.
Even so, Ms. Rose probably did as much as any critic of the postwar era to advance the art careers of women. In 1971, she wrote the first major monograph on Helen Frankenthaler. In 1983, she organized the first museum retrospective of Lee Krasner’s work, a year before Ms. Krasner’s death.
Ms. Rose also furnished the text for definitive monographs on Magdalena Abakanowicz, Nancy Graves, Beverly Pepper and Niki de Saint Phalle, contemporary female sculptors whose work encompassed a gamut of styles.
And although she generally denigrated photography as a lower art form devoid of the imaginative majesty of painting, she wrote a book on the photographs of Carolyn Marks Blackwood after discovering her work in a small-town library show near her summer house in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
“She took me seriously when no one took me seriously, including myself,” Ms. Marks Blackwood said in a phone interview.
Ms. Rose was a vivid personality, a slender blonde with large green eyes, a dimpled smile and a taste for turbans that could rival those of Gloria Swanson. She taught and lectured at several colleges and universities, including Sarah Lawrence, and formed enduring friendships with her students.
The artist Lois Lane, who studied with her at Yale, recalled her astonishment when Ms. Rose materialized at the Willard Gallery in Manhattan and purchased a Lane painting. “Barbara whooshed in there, in true Fairy Godmother style, and that was my first sale,” Ms. Lane wrote in an email. “She has whooshed in so many times over the years.”
Barbara Ellen Rose was born on June 11, 1936, in Washington, the oldest child of Lillian and Ben Rose. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father, who owned a liquor store, had a cut-glass bar made for the family’s recreation room. By the age of 3, Barbara felt aesthetically offended by her “bland, tasteless or vulgar surroundings,” she wrote in a forthcoming memoir, and resolved to flee as soon as she could.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard and attended graduate school at Columbia, writing her thesis on 16th-century Spanish painting and visiting Pamplona on a Fulbright fellowship. It was the beginning of a lasting fascination with Madrid, where she eventually acquired a home. In 2010, she was awarded the Order of Isabella by the Spanish government for her contributions to Spanish culture.
Ms. Rose was still a student when she started dating Mr. Stella, a precocious Princeton alumnus whose austere black-stripe paintings were pushing art away from the expressionist past. In the fall of 1961 he followed her to Pamplona, sketching in their hotel room as she visited age-old churches to research Navarrese painting.
They were married that October at the register’s office in London. Michael Fried, the formalist art historian, served as a witness and gave them a volume of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s writings as a gift.
Ms. Rose later said that she started writing criticism with Mr. Fried’s encouragement. Her landmark essay “ABC Art,” published in Art in America in October 1965, identified a generation of young artists whose work, she wrote, gave off a “blank, neutral and mechanical impersonality.” They included Mr. Stella, as well as Carl Andre, Robert Morris and Donald Judd. Linking their work to European predecessors like Kazimir Malevich and, less predictably, Marcel Duchamp, she provided a lofty historical lineage for the vanguard art of the ’60s.
Her marriage to Mr. Stella ended in 1969, and they both divorced themselves from their early embrace of Minimalism as well. “The only thing anybody knows about me is that I wrote that article with the title I didn’t give it,” Ms. Rose lamented in Artforum magazine in 2016, referring to “ABC Art.” She blamed her editor for the headline.
In place of reductivism, she championed art that replenished painting with inwardness, subjectivity and lush brushwork. She particularly admired the paintings and prints of Jasper Johns, with his “world of psychologically charged images,” as she wrote in the catalog for “American Painting: The Eighties,” an important group show that she organized in 1979 at New York University’s Gray Art Gallery.
The exhibition included post-Minimalist, imagistic paintings by Ms. Lane, Susan Rothenberg, Bill Jensen, Robert Moskowitz and Gary Stephan, among others, and its grandiose title — it was named for a decade that had yet to begin — was taken by critics as either brilliant prophecy or brazen posturing.
In a time when professional women were often branded as overly ambitious, Ms. Rose endured countless jabs from her male colleagues. “I have been beat up by more people than Hillary Clinton,” she joked in 2016.
Among them was Robert Hughes, the art critic for Time magazine, who described Ms. Rose in his memoirs as “one of the most extreme cases of misplaced self-confidence I have ever come across” — no matter that she proved indispensable when he moved to New York from his native Australia, chaperoning him through the lofts of SoHo and providing him with instant entree to the art scene.
It is true that Ms. Rose could be imperious. In 1981, hired as a senior curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, she declined to move to Houston or give up her longtime position as the art critic of Vogue. Her stint as a Texas curator ended awkwardly in 1985, after she bemoaned the city’s cultural backwardness in an interview with the magazine Artspace.
Ms. Rose was married four times, including twice to Mr. Du Boff, an economic historian who was both her first and last husband. After her divorce from Mr. Stella, she married the rock lyricist Jerry Leiber, who collaborated with the composer Mike Stoller on hit songs for Elvis Presley, the Coasters and many others. In 2009, she remarried Mr. Du Boff on what was their 50th wedding anniversary.
In addition to him, she is survived by her two children from her marriage to Mr. Stella, Rachel and Michael Stella, and four grandchildren.
In her last decade, though suffering from advanced cancer, Ms. Rose sat at her desk and wrote a memoir, “The Girl Who Loved Artists,” which she had been circulating to publishers at her death. Her characterization of herself as a “girl” might seem coy for a woman whose body of work is marked by a formidable critical voice, but Ms. Rose was full of contradictions.
Her last published article was a review of work by Andrew Lyght, the Guyana-born artist, which appeared in The Brooklyn Rail in October. “The capacity to synthesize opposites is one of the distinctions of his entirely original style,” she wrote. That comment could have applied just as easily to her.
Ann Clow showing her art in Georgetown – TheChronicleHerald.ca
GEORGETOWN, P.E.I. —
Artist Ann Clow has an exhibit on display at the Kings Playhouse.
Running until Jan. 28, Through the Lense and Palette offers highlights from Clow’s collection.
Originally from Nova Scotia, but living in P.E.I. for the past five years, Clow is a self-taught painter and photographer who has followed in her family’s tradition and been an artist all of her life.
She has been selling her work and giving classes for more than 40 years.
Her work is influenced by her surroundings, and since she values travel, these change over time.
Much of her style can vary from highly realistic, abstract to deeply spiritual.
“My heart is filled with creativity and so is my mind,” she said. “In art, I combine my mind and my heart.”
Once the show is finished, people can also view her work in Montague at The Turning Point health store in the Down East Mall and Twice Upon Book Store. For more information, visit annclow.com and annclowphoto.com.
Art 101: The juiciest art war of the 21st century – CBC.ca
Let’s talk about privilege. It’s a huge part of our lives and a huge part of the art world.
Today we’ll talk about the art war that broke out when one artist decided he owned a colour and nobody else could use it. And we’ll tap into why that colour battle said something really important about the art world.
I’m Professor Lise (not really a professor) and this is Art 101 (not really a class). We’re going on a deep dive into an idea, an artwork or a story from the art world that may be controversial, inexplicable, or just plain weird.
Act 1 – Colour is Important!
Lest you think it doesn’t matter, take a moment to remember how much colour lets you recognize the work of your favourite artists. Like Mondrian, whose pervasive use of primary colour makes his paintings easy to spot. Or General Idea! Their vivid colour scheme is a signature element of their work, just as much as the slightly un-natural colours of any Group of Seven painting let you know you’re looking at a work from your uncle’s coffee-table book.
Artist have even tried to make a colour their very own: in 1960, artist Yves Klein patented International Klein Blue, or IKB, and other artists (including the Blue Man Group) still use it today, continuing his legacy. Sweet little anecdote, right?
Let’s move on.
Act 2 – The Colour War
You know that big bean at Chicago’s Millennium Park? It’s a huge reflective satisfying shape and every single person who visits Chicago is contractually obligated to take a selfie in front of it. It’s actually called Cloud Gate, and it’s by British Indian artist Anish Kapoor. It was made in the mid 2000s out of 168 plates of stainless steel joined by welding, and it cost in the vicinity of 20 million dollars.
Why does the massive and expensive bean matter to our story? Because it’ll give you an idea of the scale and scope of Kapoor’s art — he’s a huge deal, and his work costs a lot of money.
Why are we talking about Anish Kapoor? Calm down, I’m getting to it. Kapoor’s gotten a ton of honours for his large-scale architectural public art. He’s won the Turner Prize (the Oscars of the art world) and was even knighted in 2013. So let’s agree, he’s done good work and made his name.
In 2014, he started working with an entirely new material called Vantablack. It was developed in the lab of U.K.-based Surrey NanoSystems and it’s the blackest paint ever made. Originally fashioned to help in optics and aerospace, Vantablack’s dense black look is much easier to grasp in person than in photos and it’s made possible through pretty intense chemistry. In essence, light is TRAPPED by Vantablack instead of being REFLECTED by it — creating an effect that looks a bit like what it might be like to spot a black hole in space. In effect, Vantablack is pretty special and pretty new.
How did Kapoor start working with it? Well … he licensed it. Exclusively. That’s right, uncles everywhere — Anish Kapoor is the only person in the world that can use Vantablack in art.
Hey, did I hear somebody say that’s a dick move? You’re not alone!
On this Instagram post, where Kapoor shows off a work featuring his exclusive black, Willsmithfresh comments, “One man owning vantiblack [sic] is truly the loneliest bean that you’ll ever see.” And hannahjasmin_ says, “Selfish enough to keep an entire colour all to yourself, and all you’ve used it for is a circle. Congratulations, you’re the worst.” And that’s just two members of the general public — some artists were pretty upset that Kapoor took this incredible new invention and crafted a situation where he was the only person who could benefit from it.
Why’d Kapoor do it? He’s said a few things on the topic, including that “it’s not about possessing the stuff.” He’s also ascribed the response to the colour itself, saying, “The problem is that colour is so emotive — especially black … I don’t think the same response would occur if it was white.”
Enter Stuart Semple, popular British multimedia artist, nice guy and … well, for this story, let’s call him a “democratist.”
Semple was one of the artists aggravated by Kapoor’s snatching of the black, and so he decided to invent his own radically new paint: the pinkest pink. He made it beyond vibrant, very affordable, and available to any artist in the world — except Anish Kapoor.
The resulting war raged on through the late 2010s, marked by regular skirmishes. Like when Kapoor somehow got his hands on some of Semple’s pinkest pink shortly after its debut, and posted himself flipping the bird to Semple — the bird in question covered in Semple’s pink paint. Classy move, Anish Kapoor.
Semple, undaunted, went on to make other paints available to the world, including his own version of the blackest black, the mirroriest mirror paint and the glitteriest glitter.
Ok, so why are we reviving this story from 2016? Well, it’s fun! Artists fighting is hilarious! Uncles everywhere rejoiced. And you can find a good number of articles, explainers, and I dunno, maybe even a graphic novel about the Semple vs. Kapoor incident. But that’s not really why we’re here. I mean, it’s part of why we’re here. But there’s more to it.
Act 3 – Why it Matters, or, Kill the Rich
Here’s why Kapoor’s hoarding of black paint points to a problem in the art world, and why Stuart Semple worked so hard to steal Kapoor’s acorns.
It’s about access. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
When you go to your parents and say, “Uncle, I’d like to be an artist,” their inevitable question is, “How will you make any money doing that?” But there’s a missing question here. That is: how are you going to be able to afford to be an artist?
Let me explain: If you want to be a successful artist, you need stuff. I get it — our earliest evidence of art is with simple materials on a cave wall. But making art costs money, and if you want to make art now you need things like: a space to work in, materials, a computer, unlimited bandwidth.These things cost money. Cheap materials can, unfortunately, look like cheap materials. Expensive materials or processes can, unfortunately, look special.
Specialness and prestige are two words we don’t talk enough about when we’re talking about how artists get started. A painter who submits work to the gallery made on panels of stainless steel with the blackest black paint in the world is going to get some notice.
Artists level up. That Cloud Gate we talked about at the beginning? That wasn’t Kapoor’s first work. It’s the result of fame, skill, AND MONEY — both the money he makes from the work AND the money he had to put into it. I’m not trying to suggest that you can’t be an artist without money — you can AND YOU WILL. But it helps, right?
So when the rich guy snatches up the best materials and makes them exclusive to himself, he’s tapping into an issue that’s big in the art world: PRIVILEGE. What Stuart Semple is doing, on the other hand, is making prestige materials — the whateveriest whatever paint available to anybody who wants to use it, except Anish Kapoor. Look, it still costs money — we can’t get away from that. But Semple’s made a big gesture to acknowledge that artists have a rough go and gave them a little leg up.
So let’s give a little shoutout to Stuart Semple, because while this may have been a fun story about artists getting real angry, it’s part of something bigger. And I suspect Semple will keep doing his part to make the art world a more democratic place.
Act 4 – The End!
Thanks for listening! Especially because working from home is really lonely.
See you next time on Art 101!
Artworks featured in this video:
00:46 – Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian (1942)
00:51 – AIDS by General Idea (1988)
00:56 – Lake and Mountains by Lawren Harris (1928)
00:59 – Autumn Foliage against Grey Rock by Franklin Carmichael (1920)
01:21 – Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor (2006)
01:47 – Leviathan by Anish Kapoor (2011)
01:54 – Shooting into the Corner by Anish Kapoor (2008-2009)
02:04 – Sectional body preparing for Monadic Singularity by Anish Kapoor (2015)
06:09 – Lady Gaga ARTPOP by Jeff Koons (2013)
06:13 – End of a Century by Damien Hirst (2020)
06:15 – Eroded Delorean by Daniel Arsham (2018)
06:27 – Gathering Clouds I-IV by Anish Kapoor (2014)
During these pandemic 'daze,' art an essential service – The Sudbury Star
Article content continued
Online, the producers promise I can learn about thousands of new products, boats, accessories, and services, and receive exclusives Boat Show deals and learn plans for the summer boating season ahead.
From NYC, I signed up to connect directly. I phoned my dear colleague, former Commodore Roy Eaton, residing in Little Current. He has been the collegial, renowned Host of Hosts of the Little Current Cruiser’s Net for the past 17 years. Over the years, Roy Eaton has been written in Sail Magazine, Cruising World and in 2010, he was awarded The Canadian Safe Boating Council Volunteer of the Year, devoted to safe boating.
A seasoned sailor, Roy’s so personable, during summer boating season he’s known as the Voice of the North Channel. The Net broadcasts every morning from July 1 to Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. on VHF Channel 71.
“Roy, will you present at the Boat Show about sailing the North Shore this summer?”
“Bonnie dear,” he laughed, “I’m on as guest speaker in thirty minutes.”
I tuned in, listening to Roy speak about, Summer in Paradise — Northern Georgian Bay and the Fabled North Channel. He showed charts to boaters, sharing knowledge and tips about anchorages. I knew many of them. As a former Caribbean sailor, I learned how to navigate, became proficient, and then took on The North Channel. with help, of course.
Staying afloat is definitely artful.
The day after, the seminar coordinator told Roy; “You broke the bank yesterday. There were 532 boaters in attendance at your seminar. Since our seminars are all recorded and saved, they’ll be on the website starting Jan. 25.”
Happily listening to Roy provide knowledgeable information for boaters who hope to ply the North Shore this summer, about the anchorages, towns, places to dine, and places to hike, was absolute Northern Ontario artistry.
Our Bonnie’s been in the Window Seat for 29 years, always learning about us in Northern Ontario. Please find her at BonnieKogos@gmail.com. She loves hearing from you.
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