American art critic who developed the concept of "action painting" to describe the work of New York School painters such as
De Kooning and Pollock. In 1967 Rosenberg became the regular art reviewer for The New Yorker. The papers offer a comprehensive
view of his professional life from the early 1930s until his death in 1978, with the greatest portion of material from the
1960s and 1970s.
Harold Rosenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1906. Like many of his generation of New York intellectuals, he was educated
in the 1920s at City College, where debate about Marxism and its relationship to the arts flourished. The issues that concerned
Rosenberg, and peers such as Irving Howe, Irving Kristol, Dwight MacDonald, Norman Podhoretz, and William Phillips, would
generate influential journals such as Partisan Review, Dissent, and Commentary along with numerous other, often short-lived little magazines. It was in the little magazines that Rosenberg for many years
found his readership. While working for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and for the Office of War Information
in the 1940s and for the Advertising Council of America until 1973, he persistently published in these journals a prodigious
number of poems, book reviews, art reviews, and theoretical essays. A selection of the essays were published as a book, The Tradition of the New, in 1959, when Rosenberg was fifty-three. The book reached a wider audience than the individual pieces had, and from that
point on Rosenberg was in demand as a speaker, writer, and professor. In 1963 he gave the Gauss seminars at Princeton, and
from 1966 until his death in 1978 he taught at University of Chicago as a member of the Committee on Social Thought. In 1962,
he began publishing art reviews in The New Yorker, becoming, in 1967, their regular reviewer. These reviews, along with pieces he wrote for other prominent journals, were
collected in the form of several books, including The Anxious Object (1964), Artworks and Packages (1969), The De-Definition of Art (1972), and Art On the Edge (1971). He also wrote books on individual artists he admired, such as William De Kooning, Saul Steinberg, and Barnett Newman.