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Harold and May Tabak Rosenberg papers, circa 1880-1985, bulk 1940s-1970s

Biographical Note

Author, critic, and teacher, Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), was one of the leading New York art intellectuals, and one of the most influential art critics of his generation. Author May Tabak Rosenberg (1910-1993) wrote books, articles, and short stories about artists, writers, and musicians.
May Tabak Rosenberg was born in Manhattan and educated at the University of Chicago. She married Harold Rosenberg in 1932, and the couple had a daughter, Patia, in 1943. In 1944, the Rosenbergs became the first people associated with the New York art scene to purchase property in the East Hampton area of Long Island which grew to become a summer art colony in the years after World War II. Friends Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock bought a house close by to the Rosenberg's Neck Path summer home in Springs, New York, in 1945. May Tabak Rosenberg chose to discontinue her writing after her daughter was born, but she returned to writing short stories and novels in the 1950s. The Long Island artist community provided rich source material for her writing, and her 1960 novel, But Not For Love, is thought to include surrogates for Jackson Pollock, Peggy Guggenheim, and Willem and Elaine de Kooning, among others.
May Tabak Rosenberg wrote several articles for the Tamarind Lithography Workshop established by June Wayne in 1960. She was invited to cover Louise Nevelson's fellowship there in 1968.
During the 1950s Harold Rosenberg was influential in bringing attention to the work of the New York Abstract Expressionists including Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, and Arshile Gorky. He was credited with coining the term "Action Painting" to describe their work, stating that what they created was "not a picture but an event." Rosenberg was an art critic for the New Yorker from 1966 until his death, commenting on the contemporary art scene. His later criticism revealed his distaste for Pop Art and other art movements of the time.
Harold Rosenberg wrote many books including The Anxious Object: Art Today and Its Audience (1964), Artworks and Packages (1969), The De-Definition of Art: Action to Pop and Earthworks (1972), Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, and Politics (1973), and De Kooning (1974). In addition to authoring books and articles, Rosenberg lectured at the School for Social Research from 1953 to 1954, and taught at the University of Chicago from 1966 until his death in 1978.