Adolph Rosenblatt

NEW YORK, NY -- The task of assembling an art auction is not a curatorial venture. As auction specialists, we set parameters and have a loose concept of the shape and size of the sale, but our consignors and buyers flow with the tides of tastes, and emerging and receding markets. This adds excitement to the task.

Recently, I was pleased to receive several sculptures by Adolph Rosenblatt to offer in the June 5 Doyle+Design auction. As a specialist with interests deeply rooted in Modernism and Post-War abstraction, I tend to seek out pieces with a mid-century Modern aesthetic to complement the furnishings also sold in that venue, so at first glance figurative sculpture might seem to be an anomaly. Rosenblatt was educated at Yale while Josef Albers was teaching there, and he later studied with James Brooks and Conrad Marca-Relli. Thus, his figurative motif can be seen as a direct response to counter Abstract Expressionism, and in parallel with the Pop art movement.

Adolph Rosenblatt’s interest in figuration at a time when abstraction was dominating the spotlight should come as no shock, as he was in good company. This connection to Pop was clearly understood by the art dealers and museum curators who offered Rosenblatt one-man shows, among them Schoelkopf Gallery, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, The Toledo Museum of Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Art and The Milwaukee Art Museum to name a few.

The artists of the Depression era in America were anxious about their careers, and eager to develop a style that might capture some of the global attention that they saw enthusiastically flowing toward the European Avant-garde. Many of these artists found their voice in Abstract Expressionism -- an energetic, emotional style that very much expressed the challenging times of America before World War II, and the immediate impact of the war. Yet while students, Rosenblatt and many of his peers saw a different America than what was reflected in the art of their professors. Manufacturing was at an all-time high, and men returning from the war were using the G.I. Bill to further their educations. This new era of hope and prosperity was expressed in the imagery of Pop Art. 

Adolph Rosenblatt, David Park, Alex Katz and Larry Rivers all moved away from abstraction and chose to paint the figure. David Park, who had begun his career painting large Abstract Expressionist works, focused on figures of men and women enjoying leisure activities such as boating, biking and swimming, painted in the heavy, bold strokes of his expressionist training. Alex Katz chose his friends and family as his subject matter. Stylistically very different from Park, Katz flattens his surfaces with very little modeling of the forms, but he also creates compositions of leisure and joie de vivre.

Rosenblatt’s terra cotta works share these themes. However, what is exciting to me is Rosenblatt’s informality. While David Park and Alex Katz present the figure in a formal, almost emotionless style, Rosenblatt is playful. He is offering us a more day-in-the-life view of every man. I would draw a parallel to the spirited works of Red Grooms. The two men share a keen awareness of the beauty and humor of our ordinary lives. Rosenblatt's The Artist’s Wife, shown seated in a simple folding chair and reading a book, or the Couple on Bleachers, seemingly impatient while watching that typical American drama of little league baseball are subjects that we all know and can immediately relate to.  

Adolph Rosenblatt moved from casting in bronze to modeling unique works in clay out of the chance encounter with the medium when his sons brought some home from school. And in this medium he found his true voice, expressing the charm and humor of humanity in a truly empathetic way.

The upcoming Doyle+Design auction offers examples of both clay and bronze sculptures by Adolph Rosenblatt.


Auction Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 10am
Exhibition June 1 - 3

Lot 79
Adolph Rosenblatt
American, 1933-2017
(i) Untitled, Bleachers, 1981
Signed Adolph Rosenblatt and dated 1980 on rear; signed Adolph Rosenblatt, dated 1981 and inscribed on underside in marker
Painted terra cotta (unique)
10 x 11 3/4 x 13 1/8 inches
(ii) Untitled, Artist's Wife Reading, 1979
Signed A. Rosenblatt and dated 1979
Painted terra cotta (unique)
5 3/4 x 12 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches
Property of Gloria Starr Kins
Est. $1,200-1,800

Lot 80
Adolph Rosenblatt
American, 1933-2017
Bronze with brown patina, cast by Lester Avnet
10 x 13 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
Property of Gloria Starr Kins
Est. $1,000-1,500

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