The Roster: Seymour Rosofsky

last edited on Sat. May 14 2016

A conduit.

Like June Leaf, whose work was a guiding influence for him in the mid-1950s, Seymour Rosofsky (1924–1981) bridged the myth-expressionist and image-and-fantasy painters.

Leaf said: “He is the only artist at the time who made sense to me. He told me: I don’t want to compete with my contemporaries. I want to wrestle with the angels.”[1] Early mature work was exceptionally brutal, featuring bold colors in sour combinations and dark amorphous figures, often grouped. Like Leaf’s Arcade Women (1956), Rosofsky’s Unemployment Agency (1957/58) suggests a dystopian vision of bureaucratic paranoia more than individual existential angst.

In the ’60s, the work adopts a more comically perverse tone, surreal in origin, sometimes pointedly political. “People who live with my work come to like even the ugliness in it,” Rosofsky wrote. “That’s part of life.”[2]

[1] June Leaf, quoted in June Leaf: A Survey of Painting, Sculpture and Works on Paper 1948–1991, ed. Philip Brookman and Lucy Lippard, exh. cat. (Washington, DC: Washington Project for the Arts, 1991), p. 8.

[2] Seymour Rosofsky, quoted in Domicile: Through the Lens of Seymour Rosofsky, exh. broch. (Chicago: Thomas McCormick Gallery, 2003), p. 12.

This text was adapted from John Corbett’s “Introducing: The Roster” in the Monster Roster exhibition catalogue.

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