Rose Hertzberg "First Period" - Artist Philosophy
by Jared Hertzberg, grandson of the artist
An intensely visual worker, Mrs. Hertzberg seldom wrote about her work. Her distinct personal philosophy is revealed in her training, in discussions with family and colleagues, and in statements she made to art reviewers throughout her career.
Mrs. Hertzberg's greatest influence
was the master abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann, who taught her and many
others of the "
Mrs. Hertzberg's best-known work, her Genesis series, Music series and associated series of abstract oils, created starting in 1966 and continuing through the 1970s, demonstrate her embrace of these principles and development of them in her own conception. In each painting, minute and complex patterns of lines and shapes merge into a few simple forms - orbs, arcs or elongated figures. At one point, two forms appear to be squeezing together; at another, sliding past and over one another in constant motion. Bulbous forms placed off-balance to the frame create impressions of weight. Forms stretch beyond the edge of the frame to lend the illusion of vast space and depth, giving the work a unique power.
Yet chance contributed as much as deliberation to the development of this style. Mrs. Hertzberg told how the onset of arthritis caused her to revise her technique. She wrote, "From the start, I was an easel painter. Suddenly, everything turned around for me - I lost the ability to raise my right arm. But in some way I had to continue my work, so I learned to paint flat. As a result, my vision and style changed. I became more relaxed - more reflective, and also took more chances. I started to work in layers- opening up the new layers to reveal what went on underneath. Each painting took longer to develop and realize, and a very personal style took hold. I've always been challenged and curious about new materials and new methods and since I work in series, I'm able to stretch my thoughts and develop the forms and color to the utmost." She explained, "Life forms and earth and sea forms emerged; forms of generation. They were the beginning of a new organic style."
Applying paint with her hand, brushes, cloth, a sponge, or a toothbrush, Mrs. Hertzberg allowed the paint to pool in thick layers, and then successively removed patches of paint using a brush loaded with mineral spirits, the colors of the revealed layers blending in a shimmery iridescent quality. Patches of cloth or paper glued to the canvas added texture. Because the paintings were created lying flat, working all around the painting, the pieces can be hung in several directions with equally good results.
For Mrs. Hertzberg,
visual impressions of the natural world and the human world were a constant
source of direct inspiration for both the themes and visual forms in her
art. The Music series of paintings
were developed directly from live sketches she made of Leonard Bernstein
rehearsing with the New York Philharmonic. On the canvas, each musician is
reduced to a small shape, these merge into a large form representing the
orchestra, and the tension among several forms expresses the emotion of the
music. These paintings were later exhibited at
A tireless worker, Mrs. Hertzberg
sketched and worked constantly wherever she went. At her vacation home in
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