Object of the Month

Forty-five WorksTitle: Forty-five Works
Artist: Seymour Rosofsky (1924-1981)
Nationality: American
Date: 1959–1976
Medium: Various
Credit: Gifts of the Estate of Seymour Rosofsky, 2011.1–45

Man/Woman/House/Boat, 1973, lithograph, Gift of the Estate of Seymour Rosofsky, 2011.11.35

Seymour Rosofsky was part of the first generation of artists who came to be known as the Chicago Imagists, so named for their representational styles that ran counter to the prevailing trends of abstraction in the New York-centered art world. 

Born on Chicago’s West Side to parents who had immigrated from Russia and Poland, Rosofsky enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1942, but his studies were interrupted when he was drafted into war. After serving both stateside and in combat overseas, he returned to the Art Institute where his fellow students included the artist Leon Golub and the art critic Franz Schulze. A Fulbright Fellowship in the late 1950s and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant in the early 1960s allowed Rosofsky to live and work in Rome and Paris, but he spent most of his career in Chicago, where he taught at the City Colleges.

Rosofsky’s work embodies two opposing forces: a devotion to naturalistic depiction and a surreal repertoire of complex personal symbols. In dream-like tableaus he conveyed dark and troubling moods with grotesque and exaggerated characters engaged in conflict or in futile and seemingly absurd activities.

The genorous donation of 45 works by Rosofsky's estate spans most of the artist’s career, from 1959 to 1976, and includes lithographs, etchings, and a collage. These works join three drawings and two prints by Rosofsky already in the Block’s collection and complement the Museum’s holdings of works by Chicago artists.