Jay Rosenblum

Jay Rosenblum
(1933 – 1989), New York, NY

Artist Statement

The vertical forms in my work serve as the vehicle for color and also become a dramatic means of achieving movement and deep space. This becomes possible through a great variation in the stripe thickness and the sudden emergence or disappearance of a particular band of color when it overlaps another.

When these elements engage themselves in the painting, there is a great visual excitement for me. A kinship with music, in a polyphonic sense, is very strong in that simultaneously one hears lines of “overlapping” music. In some mysterious way the composer can achieve this and it is equally mysterious and effective in painting when it happens.

With color, specifically, I want to be startled by some juxtaposition that becomes an exciting visual discovery. My use of color is purely intuitive and not based on any system.

The crucial moment in the painting is when the diagonal thrust of color and form locks the painting into a form that is aesthetically absolute as I can carry it at that point.


In Rosenblum’s exhibitions of the late fifties there were freely painted flower-like, cluster forms of color that emerged from the center of the painting. In the mid-1960s, the color forms in his paintings evolved into ragged-edged and vertical planes. Shortly after, he developed a hard edge style in which colors move up and down the picture plane. These flat curtain-like forms, with their vertical emphasis, indicate space by shifts in color passages. The shapes relate to a surface depth determined by the contrasting color values. The shapes sometimes overlap, but do not indicate transparency. The paintings include groupings of color clusters in vertical and diagonal motif. Rosenblum has developed a repertory of vivid color sets that inter-relate in series.

-Ward Jackson, Art Now: New York, June 1971-