Rose Hertzberg Second Period

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The "Second Period" of Rose Hertzberg's career, 1969 - 1997

by Jared Hertzberg, grandson of the artist  
 
 

In the last thirty years of Mrs. Hertzberg's career, she worked independently, reduced her teaching activities, and expanded her repertoire beyond oils in favor of collage and other media. Her travels in Europe strongly influenced her visual style.

 

Until the end of her career, Rose remained strongly influenced by the master abstract expressionist teacher Hans Hofmann, with whom she had trained from 1951 to 1953. She told a reporter in 1976, "I was fortunate enough to be able to study with Hofmann in New York City, at a time when his school was actually on Cape Cod. He did so much to take me out of traditional painting, [that] he probably contributed more to my evolution as a painter than anyone else."

 

This summary was compiled from publicity materials and newspaper reviews of Rose's work in this period.

 

Around 1966, Rose developed debilitating arthritis in her hands and arms. This gave her difficulty holding a brush upright at an easel. To compensate, she chose to "work flat," creating her artwork on horizontal canvasses, prints and collage. She told the story of how arthritis influenced her work to a reporter in a 1969 article in "The Bergen Record" and a 1976 article in a Rockland County paper.

 

Rose gave her first major exhibit of collages and prints in 1969 at Edward Williams College in New Jersey. Although of the pieces in the show were oils, the press release for the show mentions "several collages, etchings and collographs which are prints where the original is built up with cardboard, linoleum, or any other material, rather than carved out as in woodcuts or etchings."

 

In April 1974, at Ben Shahn Hall of William Paterson College, Rose debuted a bold new style: white-on-white relief collages. Forbidding herself to use color, she employed only shadow, shape and texture to form these compelling images. An article the "Bergen Record" relates: "The Ramsey artist explains that she had worked with colors until returning from Spain in January. The white houses and bright sun along the Costa del Sol inspired her new art form, she says. Mrs. Hertzberg starts with a sheet of Masonite, applies sand for a textured background, then builds layer on layer of bits of paper, rocks, fabric, and odd-shaped metal." When finished, each piece was painted a dazzling white, so that the character of the artwork depends critically on how it is lit.

 

Rose titled this series of white-on-white collages, "Layers of Civilization." Catalog #257 appears in the brochure for the 1974 show, and other works of same size (4 ft by 2 ft) also date from this year. Nine large white-on-white collages and twenty watercolors were exhibited. The press release for this show emphasizes the effect of foreign vistas on Rose's style: "Much of her inspiration she attributes to living in Spain among startlingly white houses bathed in intense sunlight of the Costa del Sol.  Watching the shadows form patterns led to her experimenting with all-white composition."

 

In 1975 Rose continued to exhibit her new collages. In addition to the all-white compositions, she also made similar pieces with colored forms. At the Bergen Community Museum, she showed five collages titled "Espagna" I through V. As she described to a reporter, "Things and shapes around me suggest a take-off for an abstraction. It is usually something from nature, texture of a rock, foam left by ocean waves, weeds and grasses pushed down by the wind."

 

In 1976, she showed several relief collages at the Second Story Spring Street Society in New York. Catalog #240 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #6) appears on the invitation for this show. The same year, Rose gave a show of relief collages, prints and watercolors at Centro des Artes, Mijas, Spain. Catalog #218 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #30) appears on the invitation for this show.

 

In 1979, Rose began to present a new medium: torn-paper collage. At Womanart Galleries in NYC and Fullerton Gallery in Montclair, she showed collages of torn colored paper. The innovation of these works was to make the artwork on the paper, but from the paper itself. The press release for the Womanart show says that she started making torn-paper collage in 1978, and that "these images were created with colored papers, not cut but carefully torn, and imposed on one another to create an illusion of depth as well as a contrast of color and form." This technique recalls Hans Hofmann's dictum to organize two-dimensional shapes within the frame to create visual tension and transcend the frame both in two dimensions and the third dimension. Rose told a reporter in 1980 that she began working with torn-paper after a foot injury and surgery prevented her from standing for long periods. When sympathetic friends gave her a gift of colored papers, she used it to develop her new style.

 

In 1980, Rose exhibited in a three-person show (with Shirley Murdoch and Leonard Sisti) at the Sisti Gallery in Buffalo. Rose exhibited 24 pieces of torn-paper collage. All of her works in this show were sold. She exhibited works from the same series that year at the Fullerton gallery in Montclair. In the same year she developed a new twist on this style: torn-paper collages made of all-black paper. White edges enhanced the contrast of the torn areas. These works appeared in shows again later in the 1980s.

 

In 1981 Rose began to exhibit large series of hand-made-paper collage. She called the form "low-relief constructions" and had begun to work in this medium in 1979. This work represented a progression of media: from making artwork on paper, to making artwork out of paper, to making her own paper. The poured-paper process allowed her great freedom to control the texture of her medium. In 1981, she exhibited several of these pieces at the Fullerton Gallery along with black-on-black collages. The poured-paper appeared in two series, called "Summer and Smoke" and the "Scroll Series." In the latter series, an article says, "She rolls the edges of both rectangles and circles around short twigs, sometimes singeing them to evoke ancient religious writings." Catalog #376 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #65) appeared in this show with the title "Web."

 

Rose held further exhibits of torn paper and handmade paper with the Modern Artists' Guild in 1982 and at the Fairlawn library, Teaneck library and Plaza Theater in Englewood in 1984. The works she exhibited had a "color scheme of autumnal rusts and beiges" as well as incorporating singed sheet music, coral, tree bark and small stones. She continued to work with handmade paper throughout the 1980s and 1990s, presenting a large show of collages and oils in 1985 at the Fair Lawn library. In 1987, Rose exhibited abstract watercolors along with poured paper collage at the Paramus Community School. She continued to exhibit these works in other venues throughout the later 1980s and 1990s.

 

During this period, Rose continued to make and exhibit art inspired by Jewish themes. In 1981, one of Rose's watercolors was exhibited at the American Embassy in Israel. In 1990, Rose exhibited in a group exhibit on the theme of the Nazi Holocaust, held at the JCC of the Palisades. This show was organized by Marius Sznajderman and included eight artists.

 

The illness and death in 1993 of her husband Walter stopped Rose from working and exhibiting actively for several years. From 1993-1994, she did very little work. However, starting in 1995, she produced a flurry of new work. Her "Music" series of eleven works in handmade-paper collage appeared at the Back Street Café in Westwood and in a 12-woman show (including such artists as Edna Dagan, Bea Reiman and Gloria Duzogolou) at the YMHA of Wayne. Rose gave the works titles like "Con Brio," "Allegro" and "Adagio." This musical theme had not been prominent in Rose's work since the early 1970s. This series is represented by catalog #340 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #57) and catalog #341 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #56).

 

Rose's last major effort was the "End of Summer" series of 10 works in poured-paper and found-object collage, which she created in 1996-97 and exhibited in 1997 at the Fair Lawn library. She also called this the "Bark Series," for her heavy use of tree bark in the collage. Rose gave many of the works musical titles similar to those in her 1995 show. This series includes catalog #080 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #1) and catalog #375 (shown at the Y/JCC in 2006 as #2). This was Rose's last major exhibit before her death five years later in 2002.  

First appearances of various media and series 

  1. Prints and collographs - 1968 (begun work in 1966)
  2. White on white collage ("Layers of Civilization") - 1974
  3. Textured relief collages (Non-white Spanish style series) - 1975
  4. Abstract watercolors - 1970s
  5. Torn colored paper collage - 1979 (begun work in 1978)
  6. Black-on-black torn paper collage - 1980
  7. Handmade paper ("Summer and Smoke" and "Scroll" series) - 1981 (begun work and a few small showings in 1979)
  8. Poured-paper collage "Music" series - 1995
  9. Poured-paper and found-object collage "End of Summer" aka "Bark" series - 1997

 

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