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Rachel Rosenthal

Rachel Rosenthal
Untitled, 1975
Mixed media collage
15 x 18 in (38.1 x 45.7 cm)

Roberts Projects is delighted to announce Thanks, an exhibition of collage works on paper by Rachel Rosenthal (1926-2015). Organized in collaboration with the Rachel Rosenthal Estate, the exhibition features never before exhibited collage works from the 1970's documenting Rosenthal’s autobiographical reflection during a pivotal time in her early development as an artist. The show takes its title after the artist’s second performance at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles (1975), in which she thanked those who had actively done something important for her, with the audience participating in the familiar roles of “father,” “mother” and “friend.”

Rosenthal’s collages are personal and familial, highlighting her investigation into the relationships between the body, spirituality, sexuality, and the home as both residence and refuge. Early childhood experiences of exile, forced displacement and protracted travel informed much of her adult experiences and appear as overlapping themes in her work. This exhibition aims to show her collages as works in progress - that is, open to interpretation - by accentuating the expansive nature of Rosenthal’s practice. Materially influenced by Abstract Expressionism, they feature energetic and gestural lines, nontraditional materials, radical subject matter and the shift of the pictoral surface from vertical to horizontal.

Rachel Rosenthal was one of the key figures in the development of theater, performance and feminist art in Los Angeles. Her practice incorporated painting, collage, sculpture and artist’s books, in addition to her best-known full-length performance art pieces which combined theater, dance, costumes and live music. Rosenthal was a leading figure in the L.A. Women’s Art Movement and in 1973 co-founded the Womanspace Gallery, a cooperatively run gallery devoted to work by female artists. By 1989, she had written, created, directed and acted in more than 30 full-length performances.

In 1990, Rosenthal was awarded a J. Paul Getty Fellowship and the College Art Association award for Distinguished Body of Work, and in 1994 she received a Women’s Caucus for Art Honor Award. In 2000, she was named Cultural Treasure of Los Angeles and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Performing Arts. In 2020, the Getty Research Institute’s Special Collection acquired the Rachel Rosenthal Papers, ca. 1920s – 2015, which extensively cover every phase of Rosenthal’s career.