Painting: Night Worn, 1996

Night Worn, 1995, acrylic and crayon on paper on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

(1931 – 1996)

Bruce Rosen’s career as an exhibiting artist spanned three decades. Beginning in the early 1970s, his work appeared in one-person and group shows in New York City and on the East End of Long Island, where he had studios.

His earliest work included Emergence, a series of large black-bordered paintings done in acrylic on canvas. Though Rosen’s paintings would undergo radical transformations in the years ahead, his 1971 statement about Emergence was somehow prophetic of the work that followed:

Gradually or explosively, life is always becoming. Out of the surrounding darkness appears a shape or a light, at once sinister and innocent, wild and contained, dream-like and real. Awareness of the void serves to delimit, to define sharply the moment of emergence. At such a moment we feel joy and terror. We are on the edge of being.

In her March 30, 1995 column in the East Hampton Star, the late art critic Rose C. S. Slivka described one of Rosen’s award-winning paintings, Sundered 1994/5, as characteristic of that period:

Certainly Mr. Rosen, a serious painter and an East End exhibitor for at least a decade, paints a delicate, diptych-like abstraction, “Sundered,” in pink, mauve, and dark gray. It appears to be paper on canvas, with a mixture of painting, drawing, and markmaking somewhat reminiscent of Cy Twombly, but with all the taste, delicacy, and skill by which we identify Bruce Rosen.

Bruce Rosen’s first one-person museum exhibition took place in 1998 at Guild Hall Museum of East Hampton, New York. Although he worked closely with the museum curator, Christina Mossaides Strassfield, he did not get to see its opening; he died in 1996, at the age of 64.

The artist was also a recognized poet. When not working with gouache and chalk or acrylic and crayon on paper, canvas or masonite, Bruce Rosen would paint pictures with words, as in the poem Dusk:

Slowly dusk descends




Over distant mountains

Gathering threads of
Day to a moment’s
Iridescence . . .

How swiftly night ascends . . .

Rosen also taught literature and the humanities at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, New York, at the City University of New York, retiring as professor emeritus from what is now the New York City College of Technology, and finally at The New School in New York City.

He held degrees in English literature from the City College of New York (B.A.), Columbia University (M.A.), and New York University (Ph.D.).

Soon after receiving his doctorate and establishing a life-long career as a teacher of literature and humanities, Rosen studied painting with Reuben Tam and Kendall Shaw at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art, with Bruce Dorfman at the Art Students League, and later with Leo Manso at his studio.

“Do Not Go Gentle: Poetry and Fiction of Growing Older” was the last class Bruce Rosen created, which he taught at The New School. “In this course,” he explained, “we explore the special meaning advancing age lends to such universal themes as the quest for identity, the conflict of generations, the persistence of sexuality, the inevitability of death, the hope for transcendence.” Many of these same themes are played out in his poems and paintings.

Please contact the artist’s estate for more information about the artist and his art, and about the ongoing traveling show of Bruce Rosen’s uncommon paintings and poems. E-mail

All materials copyright by the Estate of Bruce Rosen. All rights reserved.