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Critics Harold Rosenberg

Harold Rosenberg

Art Historian and Critic

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Born: February 2, 1906 - Brooklyn, NY

Died: July 11, 1978 - New York, NY

"Today, each artist must undertake to invent himself, a lifelong act of creation that constitutes the essential content of the artist's work. The meaning of art in our time flows from this function of self-creation."


Harold Rosenberg is remembered as one of the most incisive and supportive critics of Abstract Expressionism. His famous 1952 essay, "The American Action Painters," effectively likened artists such as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline to heroic existentialists wrestling with self-expression. And his stress on the expressive and thematic content of their art ultimately made his writing more popular - at least in the 1950s - than the formalist criticism of his rival, Clement Greenberg. Originally a contributor to fringe, leftist magazines such as The Partisan Review, Rosenberg went on to the influential post of art critic for The New Yorker. His reading of gestural abstraction as Action Painting also proved important for early promoters of happenings and performance art, such as Allan Kaprow.

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