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"Rosenwald's [movable] sculpture, so carefully fabricated, must be 'perfect' to work. He feels his ideas develop through trial and error, and calls this process 'magic.' 'When I'm finished, I'm often amazed at how they work. They make unexpected moves, and that is magic."
-Excerpt from an exhibition flyer, Anne Reid Gallery, Princeton, NJ, 1996
Robert L. Rosenwald was born in Chicago in 1920. As son of the founder of Sears Roebuck retail store, Robert spent his childhood at the family home, Alverthorpe, located in Abington. Interestingly, his childhood home today holds the Abington Art Center and the Jenkintown Music School.
He was introduced to sculpture at an early age by his famed teacher, Boris Blai of the Oak Lane Country Day School in Philadelphia. Rosenwald later attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art where he became casting assistant to the Swedish sculptor, Carl Milles. He continued this apprenticeship for four years, learning from many talented mentors including metal smith, Harry Bertoria; designer, Charles Eames; and Eero Saarinen. He went on to study the history of printmaking with Paul Sacks at the Fogg Museum of Harvard University, and he later studied sculpture with Ossip Zadkine in Paris, France.
In the early 1950s, he founded Galerie 8 on the Left Bank of Paris, France. It was a gallery where American artists could freely exhibit their works and was also the place where his work was originally exhibited.
In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked with marble, stone, and wood at his studio near Columbus Circle in Manhattan. His work was featured in group shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In 1968, Rosenwald moved to New Hope and began to work exclusively in kinetic sculpture. Mobiles entranced him and ultimately inspired him to develop his kinetic sculptures. Many of his kinetic works are motivated by the wind and based on the geometric shape of the tetrahedron, which has the smallest number of sides for a solid form. He liked to use this shape because it presented a challenge, which was an integral part of his art. The fun, magic, and wonder of generating motion became one of his greatest passions. He started with windmills; the first was a twenty-one foot aluminum sculpture for the Solebury School in Solebury, New Hope called Windmill. He created another windmill for Bucks County Community College and for New Hope/Lambertville Bridge. This piece, The Sign of the Times, was installed in 1988. These impressive, large-scale kinetic sculptures can still be enjoyed today.
As an avid chess player, Rosenwald devoted much of his time to the design of creative chess sets. These chess sets were made of painted poster board. He created sixty sets, all collapsible, portable, and boxed with folding boards.
Robert Rosenwald. Photograph by John Larsen, n.d. Image courtesy of Robert Rosenwald. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Education and Training
Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1936-1939
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1939-1940
Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1945-1946
Teachers and Influences
Boris Blai, Oak Lane Country Day School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Carl Milles, Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Harry Bertoria, Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Charles Eames, Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Eero Saarinen, Cranbrook Academy, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Paul Sacks, Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harold Zimmerman, Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Ossip Zadkine, Paris, France
George Bellows, Studio 18, Columbus Circle, Manhattan
Connection to Bucks County
After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Rosenwald briefly moved his family to a farm house in Rushland, Bucks County, in 1968. Two years later, they moved to their home on the Delaware River in New Hope. Rosenwald and his wife, artist Dee Rosenwald, maintained their home in New Hope until her death in 2017.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Parma Gallery, New York City, NY, 1956
Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA, 1972
Anne Reid Art Gallery, Princeton, NJ, 1996
Major Group Exhibitions
Third Annual Sculpture Show of Bucks County Sculptors, The Rodman House, Doylestown, PA, 1980
Riverrun Gallery, Lambertville, NJ, 1993
17th Annual Bucks County Sculpture Show, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA, 1994
Phillips’ Mill 75th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition, Phillips’ Mill, New Hope, PA, 2005
Paul Keene Retrospective, Studio 18, New York, NY, 2003
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Solebury School, New Hope, PA
Bucks County Community College
Additional private collections