Tony Rosenthal, Public Art Legend

Robert Grunder
Dec 18, 2013 6:58PM

Tony Rosenthal: 1914-2009

Best known for his Monumental Public Art Sculptures created over seven decades, Tony Rosenthal received his first Public Art Commission for a Figurative Sculpture for the 1939 World's Fair. Born Bernard Rosenthal, August 9, 1914, in Highland Park, Illinois, Tony Rosenthal passed away July 28, 2009, in Southampton, New York. While the Artist dedicated his life to Art; Rosenthal reluctantly attended Saturday Art classes at the insistence of his Mother, an Opera Singer, at the Chicago Art Institute, learning the craft of Sculpture, eventually becoming Studio Assistant. to Alexander Archipenko, the Modern Master.

The Sam Kootz Influence

The 1960's were a significant turning point for Tony Rosenthal as he changed his Name from "Bernard Rosenthal" and abandoned Figurative Sculpture. Sam Kootz, Rosenthal's Art Dealer, who also represented Pablo Picasso, convinced Rosenthal to concentrate on creating Abstract Geometric Sculptures which won Rosenthal even wider acclaim. Sam Kootz also encouraged the Artist to use his nickname, "Tony", and since 1960, was professionally known and credited as Tony Rosenthal.

Tony Rosenthal, Public Art Legend

Named a Public Art Legend by Sam Hunter, Professor and Art Critic, Monumental Outdoor Public Art Sculptures by Tony Rosenthal are located in many of the largest United States Cities, including Beverly Hills, CA; Detroit, MI; Highland Park, IL; Honolulu, HA; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New London, CT; New York, NY; Norfolk, VA; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego,CA.

Edward Albee: Rosenthal's objects instruct us, alter our perceptions, disturb and thrill us by their audacity

In the introduction to Sam Hunter's "Tony Rosenthal," Monograph, published by Rizzoli, 1999Edward Albee, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning Playwright states "Tony works in all sizes. His monumental outdoor pieces, set in landscapes or in busy city spaces, seem always to have been there. His more intimate Wall Sculptures and standing forms have a monumentality no matter what their actual size. Like all the important metal workers - like Stankiewicz, like Caro, like Serra, like Chamberlain - Rosenthal's objects instruct us, alter our perceptions, disturb and thrill us by their audacity, their wonder and their inevitability." 

Diverse Range of Sizes, Shapes & Mediums

Tony Rosenthal constantly explored Sculpture, whether it be monumental or just a few inches, in a variety of mediums including, steel, bronze, aluminum, brass, wood and concrete. Tony enjoyed all Aspects of Art, and unlike so many Sculptors, hand crafting both macquettes and many of the larger versions himself. Rosenthal relished the process of making Art as well as the Public interaction with his Art. Rosenthal earned a B.F.A. from both the University of Michigan and the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and acknowledged his gratitude by donating his Archives to Cranbrook.

Cubes & Squares Sculptures

Tony Rosenthal Cube Sculptures are like a city, intelligent formations with secrets, hiding, balancing and finding in limitations all the possibilities of a mixed society. Within aTony Rosenthal Cube, we see other shapes, planes, exposed creating steps or stairs, like a mountain difficult to climb. But climb we do, because it is the invention of clean geometry that makes man other than nature.

Tony Rosenthal's Landmark 1967 Alamo Sculpture, also known as Astor Place Cube

Tony Rosenthal's  "Alamo", the Monumental 15 foot Cor-Ten Steel Sculpture, also known as the Astor Place Cube, the Artist's most famous Public Art Sculpture, and considered a NY Landmark. Tony Rosenthal "Alamo", 1967, was first installed at Astor Place as part of Doris C. Freedman's "Sculpture in Environment" Installation, sponsored by the New York Administration of Recreation & Cultural Affairs and now one of five Public Art Sculptures in New York City by Tony Rosenthal.

Rings, Discs & Rondo Series Explored Over Five Decades

Tony Rosenthal explored the Rings, Discs & Rondo Series for five decades, creating both small and large scale Sculptures. 24/7 in New York, Philadelphia and Antwerp, you can see a major Tony Rosenthal without going to a Museum. Rosenthal's created his Ring Series so the Works react to the invasion of their environment; in effect, the Sculpture itself becomes a frame, with which to see the environment through. Being framed by the romance of a point of view, the feeling of movement, and the reverberation of movement, those who pass 5 in 1, the 35 foot Sculpture at 1 Police Place enjoy the juxtaposition of the Sculpture within New York's financial district, whether they are summoned to jury duty, going to or from work or just enjoying the sites. Viewers see the vigor from the choices that are commanded by Rosenthal's Discs Sculptures; Tony Rosenthal finds, discovers and reports to us what we might not have seen without him. 

Tony Rosenthal Wall Sculptures

In his ninth decade, Tony Rosenthal created a masterful Series of Abstract Wall SculpturesIn Rosenthal's 2006 Wall Sculpture Cat's Eye Series, the yellow and black shapes resemble the human figure in profile within the confines of geometric circles and rectangles. 

Tony Rosenthal Accumulations Series 

Tony Rosenthal commenced Accumulations, in 1997, a Series of Freestanding Steel Sculptures, he called "three dimensional sketches" that seem to float in space. By adding one unit to another, Tony Rosenthal welded each element into place, forming Accumulation Sculptures in large and small size, each with interacting formal units that look like they could be randomly placed.

International Solo & Group Exhibitions

Throughout his career, Mr. Rosenthal exhibited all over the world in solo and group shows. In addition to the legendary Kootz Gallery, New York, Tony Rosenthal received numerous one man Exhibitions at M. Knoedler & Company, New York; André Emmerich Gallery, New York; Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York; Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York and Denise Rene, Paris. 

Robert Grunder