Rackstraw Downes

I don’t remember exactly when I first met Harry Roseman – but it must have been sometime in the late 1960’s or very early 1970’s. I do, however remember very clearly the vivid impression made on me by two works he showed that together gave him a distinct artistic personality. One I saw in the basement of Roy Davis’s gallery, the other at Barbara Mathes’s gallery which at the time shared a floor with Hirshl & Adler Modern where I was showing. At Roy Davis’s I looked over an expanse of sea across which a boat was speeding, leaving a long wake. It seemed so improbable – and not just the scale –: surely sculpture was meant to depict large, clear solid volumes – humans, animals – but not a frothy, insubstantial wake. And why was it so clearly not a toy, part of an electric train set made for a kid? That was Harry’s secret, his talent, the essence of his art. Was it before or after I saw the piece at Barbara Mathes’s? Also a bronze, but this time a relief, there were rocks again, but of modest size. You were looking at them from closely and they were part of a stream: water trickled over them as though it were spring. Once again, Harry drew our attention to the gap, not the fit, between the material representing and the substance represented: bronze, water. What pleasure it gave me to see the fundamentally metaphoric character of virtually all representational art so clearly, so slyly, so puckishly displayed!

— October, 2007

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