THE ROSE HERTZBERG
The late Rose Hertzberg, an award-winning painter and sculptor,
who lived in Ramsey, NJ for 48 years, was born and raised in Paterson, NJ.
Mrs. Hertzbergs first serious teachers were the recently rediscovered
WPA muralist and illustrator, Abram Champanier (her uncle), and his friend,
the respected Japanese expatriate, influential painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi. In
the late 1940s, she studied with the pioneering post-impressionist,
painter Ben Benn. Hertzberg came to abstraction at the Art Students' League,
but it was through her private studies, in the mid 1950s, with
Hans Hofmann, the
great dean of American abstract expressionism, that she acquired her special
understanding of the discipline. Rose always cited Hofmann as the artistic
genius who opened to her the limitless possibilities of abstraction. She
continued her studies at the League with such notables as Will Barnett, Vaclav
Vytlacil and Morris Kantor; in fact, she continued to study, explore new
techniques and to experiment with new media throughout her career. Although
Rose returned from time to time to representational, figurative and impressionist
approaches, abstract expressionism remained her focus almost until her passing
in January, 2002 at the age of 93.
with the 1940s, Mrs. Hertzberg received many international and American awards
and had over 30 solo shows. Her invitational hangings numbered in the hundreds.
Hertzbergs were exhibited in Spain, Italy, the UK and Venezuela; from New
York and Buffalo to Santa Fe and LA and at the New Jersey Pavilions in two
Worlds Fairs. Her Music series of ground breaking oil paintings were
part of a special exhibit at New Yorks Lincoln Center. Many exhibits
of her pioneering, torn-paper collage at galleries sold out. Rose appeared
in many national, juried group exhibitions. She also undertook special
commissions, and her work hangs in private collections in Europe, Asia, the
USA, Canada, and Latin America. A photo of "Bull Market," her award-winning
watercolor, is in the permanent archives of the Smithsonian Institution.
Mrs. Hertzberg made art in a dazzling array of styles and media, by
choice and at times by chance. In the late 1960s, advanced arthritis and
an arm injury made it impossible for her to hold a brush at an upright easel.
Not one to be deterred from her art, she lay huge canvases horizontally across
saw horses, pointing her brush downwards and allowing the paint to pool on
the flat canvas in thick layers. The result was a striking, unique style
of abstraction, with depth and iridescent effects, seen vividly in her "Genesis"
"Orb" and "Music" series. Later, upon being cured of arthritic pain, new
artistic adventures intervened. One of these was the challenge to create
art without color, line, or shades of gray, producing stark white-on-white
relief collages three-dimensional, multi-media "Gessoes". Some of
the works were longer or higher than her own height (4, 9-10" in stocking
feet.) Nor did her diminutive size deter her from making prints in a wide
variety of sizes, using a press that would have daunted a weightlifter.
Foot surgery and later open-heart, valve-replacement surgery at the
age of 81 limited her ability to stand for long periods. Her drive to express
and to create led her to remain seated while exploring new directions in
materials, media and style - developing the new technique of "Torn Paper
Collage." - art out of paper itself. These abstract shapes in carefully torn
(sometimes -cut) colored and painted papers were imposed upon each other
to provide an illusion of depth as well as subtle and bold contrast of color
and form. Later Rose chose to make her own handmade, poured and/or screened
pulp paper. This produced a variety of effects from wistfully familiar and
abstract sculpted forms to very delicate sheets incorporating dried plant
material and other objects found in nature or with man-made textiles and
materials. Such pioneering, low relief constructions opened new vistas in
collage, which later became very popular with other artists.
Mrs. Hertzberg continued as well to pursue printmaking, pastel, watercolor
and ceramic sculpture. Rose often made works in series of ten or fifteen,
varying a common theme and common materials. In her final years, she spent
most of her time with collage, furthering her work in poured paper.
While living in Ramsey with her husband Walter, Hertzberg was socially
and professionally, active. They were founders of the Ramsey Synagogue. She
taught art in her Ramsey home studio for years, and was a founding member
of the NJ Modern Artists Guild. She was also a member of other important
artists associations. She was very proud of her membership in ALTRUSA, the
professional womens service group. Rose and Walter Hertzberg traveled
widely throughout Europe, the USA and Latin America. In the 1960s and 1970s,
they settled down for several months each year in Spain, where the mountain
landscape became a strong visual influence on Roses artwork. The first
posthumous exhibitions of her work were conducted at the Ramsey, NJ Free
Public Library which held two consecutive retrospectives in November and