Barbara Rose, Ph.D (born 1938) is an American art historian and art critic. She was educated at Smith College, Barnard College and Columbia University, where she studied under Meyer Schapiro. She also studied at New York University Institute of Fine Arts with Walter W.S. Cook. Through Michael Chapman (cinematographer), Rose was introduced to many New York artists, including Carl Andre and Frank Stella. In 1961, Rose received a Fulbright to Spain. Stella joined her in Europe and the two were married in 1961 in London. They divorced in 1969.
With the encouragement of Michael Fried Rose began writing art criticism, which, in 1963, led to a monthly "New York Letter" in Art International. In October 1965, Rose published the essay ABC Art in Art in America, in which she described the fundamental characteristics of minimal art.
In her essay, ABC Art, Rose considers the diverse roots of minimalism in the work of Kasimir Malevich and Marcel Duchamp as well as the choreography of Merce Cunningham, the art criticism of Greenberg, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the novels of Robbe-Grillet. In examining the historical roots of minimal art in 1960s America, Rose draws a distinction between Malevich's "search for the transcendental, universal, absolute" and Duchamp's "blanket denial of the existence of absolute values."
Rose grouped some 1960s artists as closer to Malevich, some as closer to Duchamp, and some as between the two. Closer to Malevich are Walter Darby Bannard, Larry Zox, Robert Huot, Lyman Kipp, Richard Tuttle, Jan Evans, Ronald Bladen, Anne Truitt. Closer to Duchamp are Richard Artschwager and Andy Warhol. Between Malevich and Duchamp she places Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Dan Flavin. Her conclusion is that minimal art is both transcendental and negative:
"The art I have been talking about is obviously a negative art of denial and renunciation. Such protracted asceticism is normally the activity of contemplatives or mystics...Like the mystic, in their work these artists deny the ego and the individual personality, seeking to evoke, it would seem, the semihypnotic state of blank unconsciousness."
"...if Pop Art is the reflection of our environment, perhaps the art I have been describing is its antidote, even if it is a hard one to swallow."
From 1962 until 1965, Rose was a New York correspondent for Art International; a contributing editor at Art in America from 1965 through 1971; at Vogue (magazine) from 1966 until 1988; and at Artforum from 1965 until 1973. From 1970 until 1971, Rose served as the first director of the museum at the University of California, Irvine. In 1975 Rose gave art instruction at the New York City correctional facility. She was also an art critic for New York (magazine) from 1971 until 1977, art editor at the Partisan Review from 1975 until 1996, associate editor at Arts magazine from 1978 until 1988, and editor-in-chief of the "Journal of Art" from 1988 through 1991. Rose served as a consultant to Condé Nast from 1970 until 1987 and to the GSA Art in Architecture program from 1990 to 1992. From 1981 until 1985, Rose held the position of senior curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston where she curated shows including "Miró in America" in 1982 and " Fernand Léger and the Modern Spirit: An Avant-Garde Alternative to Non-Objective Art," also in 1982. The College Art Association of America awarded Rose the Distinguished Art Criticism Award in 1966 and 1969. Rose's books include "American Art Since 1900" (1967); "The Golden Age of Dutch Painting" (1969); "Lee Krasner" (1983); and "Autocritique: Essays on Art and Anti-Art" (1989). She has also published countless catalogue essays, produced eight films, and curated museum exhibitions. Rose was the senior curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 1981 and 1985 and the founding director of the Katzen Arts Center at American University.
Rose is also credited with popularizing the term Neo-Dada.
- Barbara Rose papers at the Getty Research Institute. Contains biographical information and list of material housed in archive