Rosa Esman Gallery was established in 1972 in New York, New York by Rosa Esman. The gallery exhibited mostly twentieth-century American and European art in various mediums and styles, including pop art, European outsider art, Dada, constructivism, architecture, interior design, and Russian artists from the early twentieth century. Tanglewood Press Inc. was an art publishing company founded by Esman, and published thirteen limited-edition portfolios by a number of artists from 1965 to 1991.
With encouragement from Doris Freedman and Hans Kleinschmidt, Esman established Tanglewood Press Inc. in 1965 as a publisher of artists' portfolios. The first publication, New York Ten (1965), included artwork by Tom Wesselmann, George Segal, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Mon Levinson, Robert Kulicke, Nicholas Krushenick, Helen Frankenthaler, Jim Dine, and Richard Anuszkiewicz. Later publications included artwork by Andy Warhol, Mary Bauermeister, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Motherwell, Sol LeWitt, Jim Dine, and many others. The portfolio, "Ten Landscapes-Roy Lichtenstein (1967), was published in collaboration with Abrams Original Editions. Esman was contracted to work at Abrams Original Editions for a short period of time in the late 1970s. Esman and her Tanglewood Press Inc. were featured in the exhibition, The Great American Pop Art Store: Multiples of the sixties (1997-2000), University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, California.
Esman held a drawings exhibition of artwork borrowed from the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1972 in a space she rented for Tanglewood Press Inc.; she credited this as the beginning of Rosa Esman Gallery. Esman continued exhibiting in that location for the next several years, including a solo show of folded drawings by Sol LeWitt and Modern Master Drawings: Avery, Stuart Davis, De Kooning, Hoffman, Motherwell (1973). Esman moved her operation in 1975 to a building in midtown near the galleries of Tibor de Nagy and Virginia Zabriskie. Artists and printmakers shown at Esman Gallery during 1970s include Christo, Bill Fares, Tom Noskowski, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Hannah Tierney, and Eileen Gray. In 1979, Esman began an exhibition series of Russian avant-garde art, The Russian Revolution in Art, 1-5 (1979-1983), featuring artwork by Kasmir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Lyubov Popova, and many others of the Russian avant-garde. Esman moved the gallery to SoHo in 1980. In the 1980s, Esman began showing European outsider artists Pascal Verbena and Henry Darger and held a group exhibition of outsider artists in 1986, Outsiders: Art Beyond the Norm. Other exhibitions in the 1980s included Art by Architects (1980), Architecture by Artists (1981), Curator's Choice: A Tribute to Dorothy Miller (1982). Later exhibitions featured artists Joseph Zito, Sofia Dymshits-Tolstaya, Eric Snell, and Carl Goldhagen; and group shows of Dada art, twentieth-century photography, and constructivism. After closing Rosa Esman Gallery in 1992, Esman entered a partnership at Ubu Gallery with Adam Boxer and Alfred Jarry.
Rosa Mencher Esman was born in New York, New York in 1927. She studied government at Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts. She went abroad to Europe her junior year, visiting museums in Geneva, Florence, and Paris. After college, she worked several jobs including a position in the art book department of Harper and Brothers and as an office administrator for Rene d'Harnocourt at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1957, she and a friend opened Tanglewood Gallery in Stockbridge, Massachusettes, showing artwork by artist-friends, utilizing the Museum of Modern Art lending service, and borrowing from the Downtown Gallery. The Tanglewood Gallery exhibited artists Milton Avery, Karl Schrag, Tom Wesselman, Alexander Calder, George Morrison, Robert Indiana, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Mervin Jules, and George L. K. Morris, among others. The gallery operated until circa 1960.