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Barbara Rose Tribute

January 18, 2021

In memory of Barbara Rose, 1936-2020. We at ‘T’ Space mourn the passing of the great art critical voice of Barbara Rose who departed this earth on December 25. Here are excerpts from few of her texts beginning with her reflection on ‘T’ Space.

“The shafts of daylight that stream in from the skylights create an ideal environment for showing work that’s rarely available to artists. The essential modesty of the building—the walls are plywood painted white and the floors are sanded plywood—permits the art, not the architecture, to be the main attraction.”

“Perhaps the most engaging characteristic of ‘T’ Space is the element of surprise. The artists are given total freedom to design an exhibition for the space […] One looks forward to the unexpected and unpredictable events in the future that make ‘T’ Space such a lively adventure.”


“Imageless monochrome work has neither perspective, nor figure-ground relationships, nor other cues necessary to creating the optical illusion of depth. In its renunciation of illusionistic devices, it answers the call for a concrete, literal art that has the material presence of other real objects in the world. Yet at the same time, the monochrome is often considered an experience of the metaphysical, the spiritual, and the immaterial.

Thus the monochrome has two sources: mystical and concrete. Its development in the twentieth century illustrates the division between the spiritual search for a transcendental experience and the wish to emphasize the material presence of the object as a concrete reality and not an illusion.”


“Oldenburg’s dictum that nothing is discarded, that everything is used, reveals his intention to create an art as full to the point of overflowing as life itself […] His ambition for comprehensiveness…leads Oldenburg to aspire to subsume within his work the entire dialectical process: to provide his own thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and himself create the response to his self-generated challenges.”

“The pleasure-giving qualities of Oldenburg’s objects are sufficiently outstanding to command our attention. Beyond that, his work raises virtually every significant critical question involved in a discussion of contemporary art: the interaction of form and content, the relation of representational to abstract art, the nature and importance of formal radicalism in new art.”


Book sources:
“Claes Oldenburg” by Barbara Rose
The Museum of Modern Art: Distributed by New York Graphic Society, Greenwich,
CT, 1970.

“Monochromes: From Malevich to the Present” by Barbara Rose.
Editors: Valeria Veras, Raul Rispa.
University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 2006.

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