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Harold Rosenberg Action Painting Essay Example

The End of Objectness

Prior to Rosenberg’s observation, no respected art critic had ever suggested in writing that the point of an artist’s work wasn’t to create something tangible. It was taken for granted that the purpose of being an artist was to create works of art. But what Rosenberg observed about painters like Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning was that they were not focused on creating objects. Rather they were focused on their own process as painters. They were placing the utmost importance not on the finished product, but on the act of connecting to their own unconscious. The painting was simply a way for them to record the resulting effects of that connection.

Imagine being blindfolded and given a paintbrush then being told to find your way through a maze while running the paintbrush along the surface of the wall. The resulting mark left on the wall would not be an aesthetic achievement so much as it would be a record of your journey. Such was the root of Rosenberg’s observation: that the action painters were not making images; they were making outward recordings of their inward journeys.


  Jackson Pollock - Number 31, 1950


Action Painting Techniques

When a painter sets out to make a painting of a specific image, the tools and techniques involved need to offer the painter as much control as possible. But if the point of a painting is not to make a specific, pre-determined image, but is rather to create an abstract visual relic of a psycho-physical event, the painter can enjoy more flexibility in terms of tools and techniques. Since action painting is about spontaneity and being able to seamlessly convey every subconscious intuition through a physical gesture, anything that hinders freedom and instinct must be abandoned.

The action painter Jackson Pollock abandoned traditional preparations and supports and instead painted directly onto unprimed canvases laid out on the floor. He forewent traditional tools opting instead to apply paint to his surfaces using whatever he happened to have, including house painting brushes, sticks or even bare hands. He often flung, poured, splashed and dripped paint onto his surfaces directly from whatever container the paint was in. And he used whatever medium was handy, including all manners of liquid paint, as well as broken glass, cigarette butts, rubber bands and whatever else his instinct commanded.


 Franz Kline - Mahoning,1956


Grand Gestures

In addition to being free with mediums, tools and techniques, the action painters also released themselves from the constraints of their own physicality. Franz Kline’s action paintings are all about physical gesture. Each bold mark Kline made on the canvas is a record of a moment when his body was fully engaged in motion. Whereas an Impressionist brushstroke is made something so subtle as the flick of a wrist, Kline’s brushstrokes were made by a thrust of his whole arm, or his entire body, as guided by the inner reaches of his mind.

Pollock often made no contact with the canvas at all. Instead he relied on momentum and the dynamic use of his body, creating speed and power to project the medium into space and onto the surface. By not hindering his motion by contact with the surface he was collaborating with the powers of nature, which resulted in free-flowing, elegant and organic-looking marks. In a sense, Pollock and Kline’s gestures were not only creating marks, they were making impacts. Like meteor craters, these impacts can be appreciated both for their appearance and also for the primal, ancient, natural forces that caused them.


  Jackson Pollock - Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950


The Conscientious Unconscious

The rise of action painting was not a mystery. It had logical roots in the context of post-World War II American culture. American society at large was recovering from war and adjusting to a strange new modern reality. In their efforts to understand themselves and their world, people became increasingly interested in psychology, especially ideas surrounding subconscious and unconscious thoughts. In the minds of the American action painters, these ideas tied in directly with the work the Surrealists had done with automatic drawing, which involved letting the body create marks based on reflexive movements inspired by unconscious impulses.

Their thinking also tied in with primitive traditions found in the totemic artwork of Northern American native cultures. Totemic art is tied in with a belief that people are connected to each other, to history and to the natural and spiritual worlds through certain natural objects, or through beings that possess spiritual or mystical powers. The action painters hoped that through their intuitive, subconscious painting style they could channel totemic imagery that viewers could connect with in the presence of the aesthetic relics of their process.


Jaanika Perna - Spill (REF 858), 2011, 35.8 x 35.8 in


Action Painting’s Legacy

The preciousness of the gift that action painting gave to future generations of artists cannot be overstated. Harold Rosenberg’s thoughtfully stated observations inspired a tremendous change in Modernist art. He gave words to the thought that process is more important than product. He proved that the journey really is more important than the destination, or if that sounds too cliché, he proved that the drama that unfolds during the process of a painter’s creative act is more important than the relic that results from that process.

Rosenberg’s realization freed ensuing generations of artists from thinking about their work solely in terms of “product making.” They could engage in experimental processes and focus fully on ideas. They had permission to begin without having to predict the end results. Without this shift in the consciousness of artists, we never would have been able to enjoy “happenings” or the work of conceptual artists or the Fluxus movement. We never would have been able to experience the ephemeral, transient mysteries of land art. We never would have enjoyed the fruits of the alternative art space movement. In so many ways, it was action painting that enabled artists to shift their focus away from where exactly they were going, and to remind themselves that often the most important thing in art and in life is how they get there.


Featured Image: Jackson Pollock - Number 32, 1950, detail.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Harold Rosenberg papers

Date (inclusive): 1923-1984

Number: 980048

Creator/Collector: Rosenberg, Harold

Physical Description: 30 Linear Feet (64 boxes, 8 flat file folders)


The Getty Research Institute

Special Collections

1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100

Los Angeles, California 90049-1688

URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref

Abstract: American art critic who developed the concept of "action painting" to describe the work of New York School painters such as De Kooning and Pollock. In 1967 Rosenberg became the regular art reviewer for The New Yorker. The papers offer a comprehensive view of his professional life from the early 1930s until his death in 1978, with the greatest portion of material from the 1960s and 1970s.

Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .

Language: Collection material is in Undetermined

Biographical/Historical Note

Harold Rosenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1906. Like many of his generation of New York intellectuals, he was educated in the 1920s at City College, where debate about Marxism and its relationship to the arts flourished. The issues that concerned Rosenberg, and peers such as Irving Howe, Irving Kristol, Dwight MacDonald, Norman Podhoretz, and William Phillips, would generate influential journals such as Partisan Review, Dissent, and Commentary along with numerous other, often short-lived little magazines. It was in the little magazines that Rosenberg for many years found his readership. While working for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and for the Office of War Information in the 1940s and for the Advertising Council of America until 1973, he persistently published in these journals a prodigious number of poems, book reviews, art reviews, and theoretical essays. A selection of the essays were published as a book, The Tradition of the New, in 1959, when Rosenberg was fifty-three. The book reached a wider audience than the individual pieces had, and from that point on Rosenberg was in demand as a speaker, writer, and professor. In 1963 he gave the Gauss seminars at Princeton, and from 1966 until his death in 1978 he taught at University of Chicago as a member of the Committee on Social Thought. In 1962, he began publishing art reviews in The New Yorker, becoming, in 1967, their regular reviewer. These reviews, along with pieces he wrote for other prominent journals, were collected in the form of several books, including The Anxious Object (1964), Artworks and Packages (1969), The De-Definition of Art (1972), and Art On the Edge (1971). He also wrote books on individual artists he admired, such as William De Kooning, Saul Steinberg, and Barnett Newman.

Rosenberg's particular fusion of Marxist theory and modernism employed existentialism. In the late '40s and early '50s, he published in Les Temps Modernes and other French publications with the help of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Simone de Beauvoir. Rosenberg's theoretical interests and critical observation of artists such as DeKooning and Pollock crystallized in his signature piece, "The American Action Painters," published in Art News in 1952. He argued that for these artists painting was a spontaneous event in the search for individual identity, and the resultant work on canvas was but a record of that search and not an object created for the purpose of aesthetic pleasure. This argument was ever afterward associated with Rosenberg, and he continued to revise and adapt it for the rest of his career as an art reviewer.

A brilliant polemicist who loved debate and discussion, Rosenberg had many enduring friendships among the intellectual elite of his day. The mutual animosity he and Clement Greenberg felt for each other, is also, however, an integral part of Rosenberg's personal history and the history of the New York School, whose work these critics so assiduously championed. From their early rivalry over a staff position at Partisan Review, to later mutual attacks in public and in print, Rosenberg and Greenberg, equally influential, came to represent two opposing approaches to the art of their day, even if, from the vantage point of the present day, they held many assumptions and judgements in common.

Rosenberg was married for more than forty years to the late May Natalie Tabak, a fiction writer who, like Rosenberg, published in The New Yorker. They had a daughter, Patia Rosenberg, who survives them.

Administrative Information


Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions .

Preferred Citation

Harold Rosenberg papers, 1923-1984, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 980048.


Acquisition Information

Acquired in 1998.

Processing History

Papers were processed in 1998-1999.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Harold Rosenberg Papers present a comprehensive view of Rosenberg's professional life from the early 1930s until his death in 1978, with the greatest portion of material from the 1960s and '70s. Correspondence offers a history of the issues and debates that concerned New York intellectuals who published and edited influential journals such as Dissent, Commentary, Partisan Review, and Art News. The manuscripts show the range of topics Rosenberg's thoughtful writings encompassed in the little magazines that embraced him for three decades, writings on politics, literature, art, art education, and philosophy. They also show the maturation of his style as a reviewer for The New Yorker. Interviews and teaching files give a glimpse of Rosenberg as a dynamic and spontaneous speaker, a dimension of him that the audiotape also preserves. The relatively small amount of personal material, such as family correspondence, journals and photographs, evoke the climate of his personal life, while clippings and printed matter chronicle the social and intellectual era in which Rosenberg lived and worked.

Arrangement note

The papers are arranged in seven series: Series I. Correspondence, 1932-1984 Series II. Manuscripts, 1929-1978 Series III. Clippings, serials and printed matter, 1925-1981 Series IV. Personal, 1923-1978 Series V. Manuscripts by others, 1953-1978 Series VI. Photographs and Artwork, 1942-1977 Series VII. Audiotape, undated

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Steinberg, Saul

Rothko, Mark

Newman, Barnett

Pollock, Jackson

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor

Gorky, Arshile

De Kooning, Willem

Subjects - Corporate Bodies

United States. Works Progress Administration

United States. Office of War Information

New York School of Art

Subjects - Topics


World War, 1939-1945 -- Art and the war

Abstract expressionism

Subjects - Titles

Location (New York, N.Y. : Longview Foundation, Inc., 1963)New Yorker (New York, N.Y. : 1925)Commentary (New York, N.Y. : 1945)Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865)Partisan review (New York, N.Y. : 1936)Dissent (New York, N.Y. : 1954)

Genres and Forms of Material




Photographic prints

Photographs, Original



Tabak, May Natalie

Shapey, Ralph

Rosenberg, Harold

Reinhardt, Ad

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice

Motherwell, Robert

Hess, Thomas B.

Howe , Irving

Kaprow, Allan

Kristol, Irving

Phillips, William

Podhoretz, Norman

Raeburn, Ben

Beauvoir, Simone de

Barthelme, Donald

Guston, Philip

Burke, Kenneth

Bellow, Saul

Container List

box 1

Professional Correspondence,1932-1958

box 1, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including letter regarding ethics from Rebecca(?) with pencilled in response from HR, Karl Korsch letter, questionnaire from Partisan Review.

box 1, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Regarding HR's employment in Office of War Information, with bulletins and clippings.

box 1, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including Robert Motherwell presenting his ideas for the journal Possibilities, letter to Dwight MacDonald from Lionel Abel, Delmore Schwartz rejecting HR's ms., Irving Kristol responding to HR's article on Marx.

box 1, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including Paul de Man at Bard College supporting HR's work, and American poets' protesting Saturday Review's attack on Modern Poetry.

box 1, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, regarding the translation and publication of HR's articles in French journals.

box 1, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including editors of Pantheon Books and Kenyon Review. HR's request for a raise at Advertising Council where he is a part time Program Consultant.

box 1, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Clyfford Still, suggesting in one letter that HR become an art reviewer and in another regretting having made that suggestion.

box 1, folder 8


Scope and Content Note

Including HR letters to Irving Howe regarding articles in Dissent.

box 1, folder 9


Scope and Content Note

Simone de Beauvoir regarding politics, writing, etc., with reply from HR.

box 1, folder 10


Scope and Content Note

Including Joseph Cornell inviting HR to view his latest work "Dovecote," George Lichtheim regarding the publication of HR's work in his journal The Twentieth Century.

box 1, folder 11


Scope and Content Note

Mary McCarthy regarding her writing struggles and the 1952 presidential election. With letter from HR.

box 1, folder 12


Scope and Content Note

Including Robert Motherwell regarding a painting he gave HR, George Lichtheim, with reply from HR expressing his disgust with Partisan Review and Commentary, Irving Kristol regarding HR's writing style.

box 1, folder 13


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Kristol apologizing for having changed an HR article without permission and announcing a new series for Encounter called "Men and Ideas."Advertising council memo with clipping.

box 1, folder 14


Scope and Content Note

Including Lucien Mazenod regarding HR piece on Marx he's publishing in an anthology, Irving Howe, Robert Creeley, Norman di Giovanni, Alfred Kazin (w. clipping), Tom Hess, Jascha Kessler.

box 1, folder 15


Scope and Content Note

Debate between Irving Howe, Irving Kristol and HR, regarding Encounter's failure to publish HR's letter criticizing an article it had published by Fiedler.

box 1, folder 16


Scope and Content Note

Hans and Mrs. Hoffmann, warmly inviting Rosenbergs to visit them, praising HR's essays, etc.

box 1, folder 17


Scope and Content Note

Including Manny Geltman regarding English version of HR's Marx article, Irving Howe, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol. Advertising Council correspondence.

box 1, folder 18


Scope and Content Note

Including Meyer Schapiro, Ben Raeburn, Irving Howe regarding his submission of HR's book to Raeburn at Horizon, Lucien Mazenod, Shlomo Katz (editor of Midstream). Many of the letters praise HR's various articles and request more. Two graphics by Ray Johnson. Advertising Council correspondence.

box 1, folder 19


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Howe, Ben Raeburn, William Phillips, Jascha Kessler. Letter from HR to Raeburn regarding title for book. Other letters regarding advance publicity for book. Advertising Council correspondence.

box 2

Professional Correspondence,1959-1961

box 2, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Robert Corrigan, Howard Nemerov, Donald Barthelme, Saul Bellow about his new journal The Noble Savage, Irving Howe and a clipping of Howe's review of Raymond Williams' Culture and Society, Meyer Schapiro regarding a publication about Pasternak, David Sylvester, Arthur Vidich, William Phillips, Tom Hess, Robert Motherwell regarding his vacation in England with Helen Frankenthaler, a Robert Johnson piece.

box 2, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Howe , David Sylvester, Paul Goodman, Arthur Vidich, Ben Raeburn, Herschel Chipp, Irving Kristol, and Advertising Council colleagues regarding the publication, translation and reception of HR's book The Tradition of the New.

box 2, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including George Braziller, Ben Raeburn, regarding the publication and translation of HR's book Arshille Gorky.

box 2, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including William Phillips, James Purdy thanking HR for his comments, Norman Podhoretz, Allan Kaprow asking Tom Hess for a reference, memos from Advertising Council colleagues, Algerian War protest document.

box 2, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Ad Reinhardt, reporting on recent night at "the Club," the art business, HR's reviews, etc.

box 2, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including Kenneth Burke on his Poetics, Robert Bly, LeRoi Jones on the troubles of his journal The Floating Bear, John Ashberry thanking HR for the Longview Award, Norman Podhoretz, Saul Bellow regarding Herzog. Responses to HR's Eichmann article, 1961. Clippings about the biennial in Sao Paolo.

box 2, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Including Norman Podhoretz, HR regarding artists' protest against John Canaday reviews, Donald Barthelme inviting HR to speak at Houston Arts Association where he's the assistant director, Kenneth Burke regarding submissions to Location.

box 3

Professional Correspondence,1962-1964

box 3, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Shlomo Katz, Dwight MacDonald, Norman Podhoretz. Letter signed by several NY intellectuals about Siqueiros' ambiguous moral status. Many invitations to lecture and participate in conferences. Praise for HR's Gorky book and his New Yorker column. Some Advertising Council business.

box 3, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Howe requesting ideas for Dissent. Reponses to HR's Arshille Gorky. Donald Barthelme, accepting HR's invitation to move to NY and work on the Longview foundation magazine, Location, Kenneth Burke about Location.

box 3, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Letter signed by NY intellectuals in support of Civil Rights sit-in, and related materials.

box 3, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including Frank Kermode regarding BBC discussion of contemporary art, Kenneth Burke regarding submissions to Location, Henry Kissinger thanking HR for his participation in the International Seminar, Denise Levertov recommending a colleague for Longview foundation support, Ray Johnson graphics. Praise for HR's New Yorker reviews.

box 3, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Including correspondence with Robert Bly regarding dispute about Bly submission to Location, Kenneth Burke regarding Location. Invitations to lecture.

box 3, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including Morrow requesting that HR review LeRoi Jones' book on Blues, William Phillips responding to HR's request for payment, Irving Howe, Aaron Copland, MacDowell colony matters. Protest statement against censorship of Tropic of Cancer.

box 3, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Including Phillip Pavia, William Phillips regarding Partisan Review conference on "The Idea of the Future," Irving Howe congratulating HR on his Lukacs piece, offers of visiting lectureships, invitations to speak at symposia on art education and other matters.

box 4

Professional Correspondence,1964-1965

box 4, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Denise Levertov, Bill Moyers regarding Advertising Council matters, Norman Podhoretz, E.H. Gombrich regarding HR remark that offended him, Robert Hughes complaining about the Venice Biennale. Requests for nominees for grants, Saul Bellow and others regarding Location.

box 4, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including HR letter to Esquire regarding discussion of The Establishment, HR letter to Podhoretz requesting he print HR counterattack on Daniel Bell. Program for Brandeis symposium on Modern Art. HR's Ford Foundation grant application. Many invitations to speak or teach.

box 4, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including Ben Raeburn, Bompiani Press regarding publication, translation and reception of HR's The Anxious Object, HR letter to editor of Saturday Review protesting Daniel Rich review of The Anxious Object, HR letter protesting Frank Kermode review.

box 4, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including John Cage regarding a fund-raising lecture series he wants HR to participate in, Herbert Blau requesting an article on action painting and theater, Roberto Giammanco requesting an article on Carlo Levi for Galleria, and many other requests for HR to contribute papers or participate in conferences.

box 4, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Including Tom Hess offering gossip about the NY art world and thoughts about Location, submissions and other matters for Location. Arrangements for conferences; requests to review books.

box 4, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including John Cage regarding benefit lecture, Ben Raeburn regarding a surrealist anthology, William Phillips requesting HR's presence at conference, "The Idea of the Future" and inquiring if HR would review Arnold Hauser's Mannerism, Robert Osborne regarding McLuhan, Grove Press requesting that HR review John Berger's Picasso book. Petition for artists' protest against US policy in Vietnam.

box 5

Professional Correspondence, 1965-1967

box 5, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Regarding book on John Ruskin's selected writings that HR was going to edit for New American Library. Clippings of reviews of Kenneth Clark's Ruskin book.

box 5, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including Anne Tabachnik regarding art world complicity, Alfred Werner (to Commentary) critisizing HR's article on Jewish art.

box 5, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including Peter Brooks requesting a piece for Harvard Art Review, HR letter to Islamic scholar Marshall Hodgson, the USIA thanking HR for his piece on Modernism intended for Russian readers, many congratulating HR on becoming regular Art Reviewer for the New Yorker, many requests to speak at colleges, art instiutions or to contribute pieces to journals.

box 5, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including Ruth Nanda Ashen (ed. Perspectives in Humanism), Lionel Trilling responding to HR's criticism of him in Encounter, Kenneth Burke reflecting briefly on Frank Kermode. New American Library contract for essay on The Idiot. Many letters praising HR's New Yorker column. Request for nominations for Rockefeller Foundation grants.

box 5, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Including Norman Podhoretz asking HR to review Masters and Johnson's Report, John Cage thanking HR for participating in fundraising conference, Robert Osborne regarding McLuhan.

box 5, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Allan Kaprow discussing art and politics, art institutions, requesting recommendations. With reply from HR.

box 5, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Howe requesting essay on the idea of Modernism, Ray Johnson complaining about HR's descriptions of his work, Alfred Barr, Jr., complaining about HR's review of MOMA's 1960s show (w. HR's reply), James Fitzsimmons (ed. Art International) regarding De Kooning, Wayne Thiebaud.

box 5, folder 8


Scope and Content Note

Including letters requesting recommendations, articles for journals, and conference appearances.

box 5, folder 9


Scope and Content Note

Correspondence with Thomas Hess.

box 5, folder 10


Scope and Content Note

Art Forum debate between HR and William Rubin regarding Pollock and "action painting."

box 6

Professional Correspondence,1968-1969

box 6, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

HR statement against war in Vietnam. Arrangements for guest lectureships, conference papers, reprints of articles.

box 6, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including Theodore Solotaroff requesting permission to reprint HR's Eichmann essay in anthology for NAL, Norman Podhoretz asking HR to review Walter Benjamin's writings for Commentary, E.N. Sargeant about sex and art, Paul Goodman asking HR to write preface for his book, Sibyl Moholy-Nagy about the Chicago artist boycott. Many requests for HR to lecture. Much praise for HR's articles.

box 6, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including Herschel B. Chipp regarding Czech revolutionary posters, William Phillips asking HR to review Walter Benjamin essays for Partisan Review, Kenneth Burke submitting review, Ben Raeburn regarding guest list for HR's Artworks book party. Also arrangements for lectureships and conference papers.

box 6, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including Moholy-Nagy thanking HR for his review, Kenneth Burke regarding the fate of his books and new article, and much praise for HR articles.

box 6, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Generally from the 1960s. Ray Johnson paper piece, David Hare on the modern artist, John Ashbery regarding HR article he wants for his Paris magazine, Ben Raeburn regarding HR's review of Hannah Arendt, Irving Howe regarding a symposium he and HR were in, Kenneth Burke regarding Location.

box 7

Professional Correspondence, 1970-1971

box 7, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Tom Hess regarding reprints of HR's articles, HR's statement against the war in Vietnam, William Phillips asking HR to review Irving Howe's latest book, Kenneth Burke and demise of Location.

box 7, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including Paul Anbinder (ed. Harry Abrams, Inc.) regarding DeKooning ms., Robert De Niro (the painter) asking HR to recommend him to Mark Rothko Foundation for financial assistance, NEA requesting nominations for individual artist awards, HR notes to editor at Vogue about article that valorized Greenberg.

box 7, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including Andre Emmerich inquiring about rumors of forgeries, Calvin Harlan writing from Mexico, much praise for HR's articles.

box 7, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Phillip Guston letters and clipping.

box 7, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Including Robert Gottlieb asking HR to read a ms. by Gillo Dorfles, William Phillips asking HR to speak with Trilling at discussion about Modernism, Ihab Hassan, Frank Kermode inquiring as to whether HR would be interested in writing a book for the Modern Masters series, notice about debt incurred by Location, Adolph Gottlieb, Marvin Mudrick, Tom Hess.

box 7, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including Octavio Paz requesting HR essay for Plural, Peter Saul informing HR of his upcoming show, HR writing to Norman Podhoretz correcting Daniel Bell's references to him in an article, Hans Richter.

box 7, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Correspondence regarding a proposed book on Doestoevsky by HR for Modern Masters.

box 7, folder 8


Scope and Content Note

Materials regarding HR's Act and Actor.

box 7, folder 9


Scope and Content Note

Materials regarding HR's Discovering the Present.

box 7, folder 10


Scope and Content Note

Correspondence regarding dedication ceremony for Barnett Newman's "Broken Obelisk" for which HR gave lecture.

box 8

Professional Correspondence,1972-1973

box 8, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Frances Morley writing about her husband the artist Malcolm Morley, Calvin Harlan, praise for HR's book The De-Definition of Art, William Phillips regarding the Partisan Review benefit committee, Henry Peacock, HR letter to William Shawn about Alsop's book.

box 8, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including the Enciclopedia Italiana asking HR to write the entry on "Pop Art," John Hochmann (ed. Praeger) inquiring about HR ms., many requests to lecture.

box 8, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including requests to review books for various presses, requests to lecture.

box 8, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including William Phillips sending preliminary questions for Partisan Review panel discussions, Andre Emmerich objecting to HR's Morris Louis article, John Hochman (ed. Praeger) offering to publish HR's memoirs, Lydia Winston Malbin regarding HR's piece on Marinetti, Irving Howe proposing a book of essays on the new conservatism of American intellectuals, Jerre Mangione attacking HR for his review of The Dream and The Deal, with HR's reply.

box 8, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Including Irving Howe regarding a piece about artists who emerged from the Jewish immigrant experience, HR to Artforum defending himself against mistaken article, Advertising council asking HR to retire.

box 8, folder 6


Scope and Content Note

Including Norman Toynton, Moira Roth, Saul Bellow regarding HR's reappointment to U. of Chicago.

box 8, folder 7


Scope and Content Note

Including James Fitzsimmons, Cathleen Gallander, Ben Raeburn.

box 9

Professional Correspondence,1974-1975

box 9, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Ben Raeburn, HR to Lionel Trilling about his lecture, Bob Boyer about issue of Salamagundi devoted to Saul Bellow, Taylor Stoehr regarding biography of Paul Goodman, William Phillips asking HR to review Mary McCarthy's books about Watergate and Vietnam, Howard Conant inviting HR to be NYU's critic in residence.

box 9, folder 2


Scope and Content Note

Including James Atlas about his biography of Delmore Schwartz, Norman Podhoretz about reviewing HR's Discovering the Present.

box 9, folder 3


Scope and Content Note

Including program and other materials for the Palm Coast Symposium where HR was on the panel about Popular and Elite Culture, Saul Bellow, Hayden White.

box 9, folder 4


Scope and Content Note

Including Kirk Varnedoe, Jim Fitzsimmons, Tom Hess.

box 9, folder 5


Scope and Content Note

Regarding Art on the Edge.

box 10

Professional Correspondence,1975-1976

box 10, folder 1


Scope and Content Note

Including Diana Trilling, Melvin Tumin, William Phillips requesting a piece on the differences between the art scene in the 1940s and 1950s and the art scene of the 1970s, David Jenkins, Malitte Matta.

Finding aid for the Harold Rosenberg papers, 1923-1984

Annette Leddy.

Series I. Correspondence,1932-1984

Physical Description: 19 box(es) 7.9 lin. ft.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence concerns Rosenberg's relationship with artists, critics, academic colleagues, family, and businesses. Folders containing general correspondence from a given year are interfiled with folders containing correspondence with a specific individual or concerning a specific issue. Rosenberg's replies are often included either in the form of carbon copies or as remarks written in pencil on a given letter. Descriptions of folder contents offer selected highlights only and are not complete inventories.

Arranged in three subseries.

Series I.A. Professional Correspondence,1932-1978

Physical Description: 4.5 Linear Feet

Scope and Content Note

Professional correspondence is a rich source of information about Rosenberg's intellectual development and about the debates that characterized the anti-Stalinist left in New York in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. One highlight is the editorial correspondence with Irving Howe, William Phillips, Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Meyer Schapiro, and Ben Raeburn. Also interesting are letters from the French intellectuals Rosenberg knew in the 1940s and '50s, such as Paul de Man, Simone de Beauvoir, and Merleau-Ponty. There are letters from writers associated with one of the journals Rosenberg edited, Location, such as Saul Bellow, Kenneth Burke, Donald Barthelme, Robert Bly, and Thomas Hess, and from artists Rosenberg was close to, such as Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, and Allan Kaprow. A small amount of correspondence pertains to Rosenberg's work as a consultant for the Advertising Council of America.

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