A Finding Aid to the Harold and May Tabak Rosenberg Papers, circa 1880-1985, bulk 1940s-1970s.

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.roseharo
Creators:
Rosenberg, Harold, 1906-1978
Dates:
circa 1880-1985
bulk 1940s-1970s
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of New York author, art critic, and teacher Harold Rosenberg, and writer May Tabak Rosenberg, measure 4.0 linear feet and date from circa 1880-1985, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1940s to the late 1970s. Records primarily document May Rosenberg's writing career and, to a lesser degree, her husband's career, through address books and calendars, letters, writings and notes, scattered business records, printed material, and photographs. Harold Rosenberg is documented most fully in the photographs, which include individual and family portraits, photographs of the Rosenbergs with family and friends, including artists and writers, and photographs taken in Springs, New York, where the Rosenbergs were part of the summer art colony in East Hampton.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York author, art critic, and teacher Harold Rosenberg, and writer May Tabak Rosenberg, measure 4.0 linear feet and date from circa 1880-1985, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1940s to the late 1970s. Records primarily document May Rosenberg's writing career and, to a lesser degree, her husband's career, through address books and calendars, letters, writings and notes, scattered business records, printed material, and photographs. Harold Rosenberg is documented most fully in the photographs, which include individual and family portraits, photographs of the Rosenbergs with family and friends, including artists and writers, and photographs taken in Springs, New York, where the Rosenbergs were part of the summer art colony in East Hampton.
The papers include biographical material consisting of address books, and letters written primarily to May Tabak Rosenberg regarding writing submitted to publishing companies including Russell & Volkening, Inc., MacMillan Publishing Company, and Mc-Graw Hill Book Company. Letters also document Rosenberg's friendship with June Wayne and her involvement, through Wayne, in the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Writings and notes consist primarily of manuscript drafts, notes, and published copies of work by May Rosenberg, including articles for Craft Horizons, a 1960 novel But Not For Love, her 1959 children's book A Fish Is Not A Pet, and many other stories, fragments and literary sketches of ideas. The collection also includes a small number of writings by Harold Rosenberg, including seven notebooks and two published articles.
Personal business records are scattered and routine but include a few invoices and records of royalties for both May and Harold Rosenberg, and a will, handwritten by May Rosenberg.
Printed material includes one article each on Harold and May Rosenberg, news clippings on feminism presumably collected by May Rosenberg, and a map of East Hampton which shows the location of the house purchased by the Rosenbergs in Springs, New York, in 1944.
Photographs include multiple portraits of Harold, May, and Patia Rosenberg which date from circa 1930s to the 1980s, many of which were taken by Maurice Berezov. There are also photographs of the Rosenbergs with family and friends including Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner at their home in Springs, and artists Perle Fine, Francoise Gilot, Barnett Newman, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Milton Resnick, and others. There are photos of May Rosenberg and June Wayne in June Wayne's studio, and photos of Louise Nevelson working on lithography at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1968.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as six series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1930s-circa 1980s (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Letters, 1936-1985 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1940s-1984 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)
  • Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1950-1984 (0.25 linear feet; Box 3)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1918-1982 (0.35 linear feet; Box 3)
  • Series 6: Photographs, circa 1880s-circa 1981 (1 linear foot; Box 4)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Author, critic, and teacher, Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978), was one of the leading New York art intellectuals, and one of the most influential art critics of his generation. Author May Tabak Rosenberg (1910-1993) wrote books, articles, and short stories about artists, writers, and musicians.
May Tabak Rosenberg was born in Manhattan and educated at the University of Chicago. She married Harold Rosenberg in 1932, and the couple had a daughter, Patia, in 1943. In 1944, the Rosenbergs became the first people associated with the New York art scene to purchase property in the East Hampton area of Long Island which grew to become a summer art colony in the years after World War II. Friends Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock bought a house close by to the Rosenberg's Neck Path summer home in Springs, New York, in 1945. May Tabak Rosenberg chose to discontinue her writing after her daughter was born, but she returned to writing short stories and novels in the 1950s. The Long Island artist community provided rich source material for her writing, and her 1960 novel, But Not For Love, is thought to include surrogates for Jackson Pollock, Peggy Guggenheim, and Willem and Elaine de Kooning, among others.
May Tabak Rosenberg wrote several articles for the Tamarind Lithography Workshop established by June Wayne in 1960. She was invited to cover Louise Nevelson's fellowship there in 1968.
During the 1950s Harold Rosenberg was influential in bringing attention to the work of the New York Abstract Expressionists including Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, and Arshile Gorky. He was credited with coining the term "Action Painting" to describe their work, stating that what they created was "not a picture but an event." Rosenberg was an art critic for the New Yorker from 1966 until his death, commenting on the contemporary art scene. His later criticism revealed his distaste for Pop Art and other art movements of the time.
Harold Rosenberg wrote many books including The Anxious Object: Art Today and Its Audience (1964), Artworks and Packages (1969), The De-Definition of Art: Action to Pop and Earthworks (1972), Discovering the Present: Three Decades in Art, Culture, and Politics (1973), and De Kooning (1974). In addition to authoring books and articles, Rosenberg lectured at the School for Social Research from 1953 to 1954, and taught at the University of Chicago from 1966 until his death in 1978.

Administration
Processing Information
Half of the collection received some minimal processing shortly after receipt. The entire collection was processed and a finding aid was prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2018.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 1999 via the Ridgway Public Library in Ridgway, Colorado. The collection had come to the library from one of its trustees, an acquaintance of the Rosenbergs.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
The Harold and May Tabak Rosenberg papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
Harold and May Tabak Rosenberg papers, circa 1880-1985, bulk 1940s-1970s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Harold Rosenberg, conducted by Paul Cummings in 1970-1973.
The Getty Research Institute is the primary repository of Harold Rosenberg's papers.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Abstract expressionism -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Authors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rosenberg, May Tabek, 1910-1993 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wayne, June, 1918-2011 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tamarind Lithography Workshop Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/