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Leonard Rosenfeld

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Title: Leonard Rosenfeld  
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Leonard Rosenfeld

Leonard Rosenfeld (December 14, 1926-December 2, 2009) was an American expressionist artist who was born in Brooklyn, New York. In the Post-World War II era, Rosenfeld associated with a group of artist known as the New York School. His contemporaries and prominent New York School artists included Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Robert Motherwell.[1]


Born and raised in New York City, Rosenfeld served in the United States Army during World War II. After the war he attended the Art Students League of New York. There he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. Rosenfeld had a very long and productive sixty-year career as an artist. He along with other New York School artists, such as Willem de Kooning and Allen Ginsberg became immersed in the abstract expressionist and expressionist scene during the 1950s. Much of their time was marked by social gatherings at the legendary Greenwich Village bar "The Cedar" where beatniks and fellow members of the New York art scene discussed art, sports, and politics. In the late 1950s, Rosenfeld produced a series of "Rail-Road" drawings that would later be displayed by Martha Jackson in 1965 as part of a group exhibition. Rosenfeld, like many great artists, produced many artistic series and his work was shown throughout New York at many prominent galleries, such as his "rag paintings" at Ivan Karp's OK Harris gallery on West Broadway during the 1980s.

Rosenfeld derived his inspiration from the common sights he witnessed every day in New York City and worldwide events. In the 1980s, he experimented with different media, for example Rosenfeld was inspired by loose bits of wire he found on the street. He took these loose bits and tacked them to canvas stretchers with carpet tacks. He would then render these wires and tacks into works that would later be known as "wire-pieces" and he explored many shapes, colors, and themes. These works are considered by many to be his greatest works from the 1980s-1990s.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center had a profound impact on Rosenfeld. His studio faced the World Trade Center and he witnessed, in horror, the towers collapse. His September 11, 2001, art series is poignant in that it depicts the first-hand observations of an expressionist. During the first decade of the new millennium the war on terror provided Rosenfeld with the inspiration to create a series of war, soldier, and terrorist themed paintings. Rosenfeld's career as an artist spanned six decades. He died on December 2, 2009, in New York City.

Inspiration and Artistic Influences

Late 1950s "Rail Road"

Rosenfeld captured the essence of New York City in 1950s. His "Rail Road" paintings are black crayon on paper. They illustrate various subway scenes throughout the borough of Brooklyn, New York.

1970s "Hookers"

Living in the East Village throughout the 1960s-1970s Rosenfeld chose to depict the daily interactions of hookers and pimps. Often his inspiration came from scenes witnessed out in front of his apartment. Rosenfeld depicts many of his "hookers" in a manner reminiscent of Picasso.

1980s "Wire-Painting"

Considered by many to be Rosenfelds most unique creations, his "wire-paintings" required hours of tedious work. He would collect bits of wire he found out on the street and bend and fold them into shape. He would then tack these wires onto a canvass stretcher to form his painting. The results of which are stunning.

September 11, 2001

Rosenfeld witnessed first hand the horrors of 9/11. From his studio he witnessed men and women jumping from the trade center buildings. His paintings offer the viewer a very emotional and riveting depiction of 9/11 through the eyes of an expressionist.

Soldiers and Terrorist

Rosenfeld is was one of the first known artists to depict the war on terror. His terrorist and soldier paintings are rendered in vibrant color and shape.

Selected Showings


  • 2009: Salomon Arts Gallery, New York, NY (October–November); Van Der Plas Gallery, New York, NY (August –September)
  • 2008: ARTWALK, NY, New York, NY (Auction conducted by Sotheby’s; hosted by Richard Gere, Carey Lowell)
  • 2007: President's Gallery LaGuardia Community College Gallery, NY; Gallery 311, New York, NY (Soldiers)
  • 2006: Gallery 311, New York, NY (Soldiers and Terrorists)
  • 2005: Coalition for the Homeless Benefit Small Works Show - Merz Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY (group show); ARTWALK, NY, New York, NY (Auction conducted by Sotheby’s; hosted by Candice Bergen); Viridian Artists, New York, NY (two group shows)
  • 2004: Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Galeria Corona, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • 2003: Coalition for the Homeless Benefit Retrospective; ARTWALK NY, New York, NY (Auction conducted by Sotheby’s; hosted by Peter Jennings)
  • 2002: ARTWALK NY, New York, NY (Auction conducted by Sotheby’s; hosted by Charlie Rose); Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; "Art from Detritus,” John Jay College, New York, NY
  • 2001: ARTWALK NY, New York, NY (Auction conducted by Sotheby’s; hosted by Peter Jennings)
  • 2000: ARTWALK NY, New York, New York (Auction conducted by Christopher Burge of Christies’; hosted by Peter Jennings)
  • 1999: Leonora Vega Gallery, New York, New York ARTWALK NY, New York, New York (in live auction conducted by Christopher Burge of Christie’s)
  • 1998: Goldstrom Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1997: ARTWALK NY, New York, NY
  • 1996: Henry Street Settlement, New York, NY
  • 1995: Michael Kisslinger Gallery, New York, New York NY; Soho Biennial, New York, City; NatWest Bank, New York, NY; ARTWALK NY, New York, NY; Massman Gallery (Rockhurst College), Kansas City, Missouri; Eleven East Ashland Independent Art Space, Phoenix, Arizona
  • 1991: The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
  • 1989: The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
  • 1988: The Robert Kidd Gallery, Detroit, Michigan; Casa Del Lago (University of Mexico), Mexico City
  • 1986: Central Falls, New York, New York
  • 1983: Kenkaleba House, New York, New York
  • 1982: OK Harris Gallery, New York, NY; The Race Street Gallery (with OK Harris), Philadelphia, PA
  • 1981: OK Harris Gallery, New York, NY; Grant, Edna St. Vincent Millay Art Colony, Austerlitz, New York
  • 1980: OK Harris Summer Invitational
  • 1978: The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Jacques Seligman, New York, NY
  • 1976: Gloria Cortella Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1975 The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1965: Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1963: Stryke Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1959: Waverly Gallery, New York, NY

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