Barbara Rose, a critic and curator whose writings and exhibitions changed the way historians told the story of postwar art in the U.S., has died. She was 84. Phyllis Tuchman, an art critic and a friend of Rose, confirmed Rose’s death and said she had been suffering from cancer.
Rose is closely identified with the New York art scene of the 1960s, whose artists she regarded with suspicion because they so severely diverged from traditions laid out in the years before. But she had a more diverse set of interests, having advocated in particular for painting—a medium which many at the time claimed was dead—for a large part of her career.
For many, Rose’s defining piece of writing is “ABC Art,” which appeared in a 1965 issue of Art in America. In it, she endeavored to pinpoint a new artistic trend—a “sensibility,” not a style—that was predicated on repetition and an overall denial of visual pleasure and creativity. This, she said, was in part a reaction to Abstract Expressionism, whose artists strove for individualism and originality, and it was evidenced in the plainspoken dances of Robert Morris and the pared-down sculptures of Donald Judd.
Identifying this push toward coldness and irony, Rose wrote, “If, on seeing some of the new paintings, sculptures, dances or films, you are bored, probably you were intended to be. Boring the public is one way of testing its commitment.”
Some have claimed that Rose’s essay helped usher in Minimalism, the style now associated most closely with Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Carl Andre, and others. In a 2017 article, Artspace labeled “ABC Art” one of the essays that changed art criticism forever. But Rose denied that her essay had had such an impact.
“The only thing anybody knows about me is that I wrote that article with the title I didn’t give it, which was ‘ABC Art,’ and then everybody insisted that I invented Minimal art,” Rose told Artforum in 2016. “Well, that is seriously wrong. I don’t invent art movements. I just notice coincidences, and those coincidences began to make sense to me as a worldview, which the Germans call weltanschauung.”
Much of Rose’s output in the decades following “ABC Art” was focused on painting. In 1979, when most critics presumed that painting had reached a dead end, Rose curated the exhibition “American Painting: The Eighties” at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery. (It later traveled to the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Texas and the American Cultural Center in Paris.) With 41 artists included—Susan Rothenberg, Ron Gorchov, Elizabeth Murray, and Lois Lane among them—the exhibition was meant to be a forward-looking survey showcasing the medium’s continued relevance.
In the catalogue essay for the show, Rose described having grown fed up with conceptual art, video, and photography, which she claimed exhibited “a retarditaire ‘return to realism.’” Instead, she was staking a claim for a return to “quality.”
Critics lambasted the show. New York Times critic Hilton Kramer said the art on view looked like “Abstract Expressionism with a college education.” Hal Foster wrote in Artforum, “Whatever its faults, the show is adamantly pro-painting; and it comes as a reply to those who have doubted its integrity for some time. One feels, however, that serious ambition is lacking somewhat here.” But Rose, never one to grow beleaguered in the face of attacks from her colleagues, persisted—and even reprised the show’s conceit more than 10 years later, in a similarly named exhibition subtitled “The Nineties” that opened at New York’s André Emmerich Gallery in 1991.
Barbara Rose was born in 1936 in Washington, D.C. She attended Smith College for her undergraduate degree and later received a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. She was married several times, once to artist Frank Stella, whom she wedded in 1961 and divorced in 1969. (In a chronicle of her four marriages for the Cut in 2019, she said, “I was married four times to three husbands—50 years later, I remarried my first husband. It’s bizarre, isn’t it?” At the time of her death, she was still married to Richard Duboff.)
Rose’s fame grew in the ’60s as she began penning fiercely critical essays for publications including Artforum, for whom she wrote a multipart diatribe attacking the idea that art and criticism had revolutionary potential. She also addressed the late-career paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and John Chamberlain’s sculptures.
Starting in 1965, she served as a contributing editor for Art in America, and in 1966, she became arts editor of Vogue. In 1967, she published the book American Art Since 1900: A Critical History. And during the ’70s, she served as a critic for New York. All the while, she had become a crucial member of the New York art world, attending the opera with Andy Warhol and counting Carl Andre among her close friends.
At one point in her career, Rose’s ambitions took her into the museum world. In 1981, she was appointed curator of exhibitions and collections and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Her time in that role came with a few lauded shows, including a retrospective devoted to Lee Krasner—“one of the significant painters of the 20th century,” she once said—that went on to travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Chrysler
Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Another notable show was one devoted to a so-called “Houston School” of rising Texan painters; that exhibition went to the P.S. 1 art center in Queens, New York, as well. But her position at the MFA was not without controversy.
Initially, some accused Rose of conflicts of interest because the museum had acquired works from her husband (Stella) and because she had ties to a prominent Houston dealer with connections to the MFA. Rose largely waved off the allegations. Yet her time there was short-lived. In 1984, she became outspoken about the lost potential of the Houston art scene and then resigned.
Rose continued to maintain that spirit well into the later stages of her career. In 2018, she appeared in the documentary The Price of Everything, alongside the likes of artist Jeff Koons and collector Stefan Edlis. Of the art market’s rapid ascent over the past half-century, she said, “It’s sick.”
And in 2016, on the occasion of an exhibition devoted to Belgian and American painters that appeared at the Vanderborght and Cinéma Galeries/the Underground in Brussels, she wrote, “Minimal reductiveness can now be seen for what it is: a transitional step in the history of art, one necessary in order for painting to gain new freedom in favor of the play of the imagination.”
10 year-old uses art and music as emotional outlet during pandemic – CTV Toronto
The last 10 months haven’t been easy for 10 year-old Anushka Sabeshan.
“It’s been pretty hard. I get anxious about these things,” she told CTV News Toronto. “My classmate tested positive, my dad tested positive, so it’s just been like a whole rollercoaster for me. And I feel like a lot of kids around the world are feeling that way right now.”
The Markham, Ont. girl has been channeling her feelings and emotions through different artistic platforms, like painting.
“This art like shows like how I want it to be, or how it is now, or how it’s changed and they just really express my feelings,” Sabeshan explained. “I’ve also been creating music.”
It’s Sabeshan’s music that caught the attention of her teacher and classmates. As part of a school project, the students were tasked with creating a song about COVID-19. Sabeshan’s song, ‘Mayhem,’ was so well received that her family allowed it to go public. A production team also helped her put together a music video.
“My song is about a child through the pandemic, and it shows how this can affect kids, too,” Sabeshan said. “Not being able to see my friends and not being able to go out to restaurants and all that stuff, it sucks.”
Sabeshan’s younger brother Devin helped with the video The six-year-old says he shares many of his sister’s emotions.
“I felt really bad about COVID,” he told CTV News Toronto. “I wish it would go away.”
The siblings hope ‘Mayhem’ brings a feeling of calm to other young people during this difficult time.
“I think my music people will help other people just to reassure them that they’re not alone. Like, other people are feeling these feelings, too,” Sabeshan said. “It also is to create awareness for everybody to stay safe so we can get through this faster.”
“[Anushka] sings them a song to make them happy,” Devin says. “That’s what she does for other kids.”
‘Mayhem’ was put together with the help of Enliven Entertainment and Steve Cliff Valentine, who produced the music, along with Jeysan Sivakumar, who directed the video.
Sabeshan’s advice for other kids experiencing complex feelings during this time is to find something to do that makes them happy, or that they feel passionate about.
“I will definitely keep making paintings and making music,” she told CTV News Toronto. “And I encourage all people around the world to find things like what they like and just do them, just to take your mind off the pandemic.”
Outdoor Gallery Stratford project brings art to life – The Beacon Herald
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“I want to flip that idea on its side and have the viewer engage in the evolution of the art piece itself – watching it change and seeing a bit of the creative process as it goes,” Dunnem said.
Dunnem used hot and cold water and soap to turn natural wool from a stuffing-like texture to fabric that wouldn’t fall apart. She used plant-based dye to colour the material and then cut more than 360 pieces that were affixed to the tree using its bark as a natural adhesive.
The project is similar to another soft sculpture piece Dunnem created in the summer that incorporated the gallery’s trees.
“I’ve always had a close relationship with nature and trees,” she said. “I spend a lot of time out in the woods and the forest. Even as a young child we spent our summers in a remote area where there were no other humans, so I adopted the trees as more than trees – as friends – and that’s been ingrained.”
After Dunnem has attached the last piece of wool Thursday, the project will live on – kind of.
“I think there is just as much beauty in the deterioration and in the decay as there is in the actual artwork,” she said. “The sun, the light, the cold, the hot will start to break down the fibres, and bugs and spiders and natural material will start to hold on to the fibres as well, and it becomes its own piece of art without human intervention.”
The project has garnered attention both in person and on social media for those who can’t make it to the gallery, including someone from Austria, Dunnem said.
Gallery Stratford closed its doors to guests Dec. 24, and Brayham hopes to reopen in early April. Until then, outdoor artwork like Dunnem’s is a chance to both engage the public and encourage mindfulness and physical activity.
“Many of us right now are spending so much time on screens,” Brayham said, “so being present with the environment and present with art and with your feelings is so important right now.”
Outdoor public art exhibit of painted canoe paddles comes to downtown Peterborough in February – kawarthaNOW.com
A new outdoor public art exhibit featuring 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists in the community is coming to downtown Peterborough in February.
Presented by the Downtown Vibrancy Project, the Painted Paddle art exhibit will be installed in street-front windows at various locations through the downtown area, including the Peterborough & the Kawartha Tourism Visitor Centre, Le Petit Bar, St. Veronus, Boardwalk Game Lounge, Sam’s Deli, Black Honey Bakery, Cork and Bean, B!KE, Watson and Lou, Cottage Toys, By The Bridge, GreenUp Store, Night Kitchen, Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area office, Meta4 Gallery, The Avant-Garden Shop, Sustain, Bluestreak Records, and Peterborough Social Services.
For those interested in taking a self-guided tour of the Painted Paddle exhibit, a map of all locations will be available at linktr.ee/LoveForTheBoro.
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“Art brightens the spirit and has a way of making people feel good,” says Tracie Bertrand, director of tourism at Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. “The Painted Paddle art project will put a smile on people’s faces as they fondly reflect on their memories of being outdoors here in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.”
Some of the people and organizations who have contributed paddle art for the project include Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien, Hiawatha First Nation, Wiigwaas Hiawatha Store, Peterborough Police Service, Peterborough DBIA, GreenUP, Trent Gzowski College, Trent Veg Garden, Peterborough Pollinators, Princess Gardens Retirement Residence, Empress Gardens Retirement Residence, St. Anne’s School, VegFest, B!KE, the Art School of Peterborough, city councillors Kim Zippel and Kemi Akapo, mother-and-daughter team Eileen and Kendron Kimmett, local Anishinaabe artist Kyler Kay, and local artist Tiphaine Lenaik.
“The paddle creates a unique way to honour and acknowledge the original families in Treaty 20,” says Tim Cowie, lands and resource consultant with Hiawatha First Nation, one of many creative community members who lent their artistic skills to the Painted Paddle project. Cowie painted his paddle to look like a piece of birch bark (wiigwaas) and painted the clans (dodems) on his paddle to showcase the family ties of the Michi Saagiig.
Jill Stevens, economic development officer of Hiawatha First Nation, incorporated Michii Saagiig culture as part of their painted paddle installation.
“Having a paddle as the canvas was the perfect backdrop for the Hiawatha logo, which depicts someone paddling through manomin (wild rice) stands,” Stevens says.
The Painted Paddle exhibit will be on display in downtown Peterborough from Monday, February 1st until Friday, March 5th.
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Painted paddles from the exhibition will be available in a virtual auction beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 19th and continuing until 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 4th, just before the March First Friday Peterborough art crawl.
Proceeds from the auction at www.32auctions.com/paintedpaddles will go towards the One City Employment Program, which provides meaningful work to those with barriers to traditional employment.
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