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Barbara Rosenthal

A boxed, comb-bound, handcrafted book of 8 actual sheet of laminated “dry dirt” cleaned from distinct areas of the artist’s kitchen and studio, plus 51 scanned and digitally printed, double-sided sheets. Two chapters: “Past Life” and “Art History”, plus a “Dirty Joke.” Each lamination and print have been created as an abstract collage of authentic
debris. 5 x 5 inches, edition of 25. $800

Publisher: Visual Studies Workshop Press. An offset book with smythsewn binding, printed spine, varnished black, white and cyan cover, containing 37 surreal photographs, 26 trompe l’oeil overlays, 34 pages of continuous journal-form entries as texture-to-be-read. Private, public, social and universal materials from news sources, literature, science and personal archives mix in unified visual-verbal double-page images to reveal a philosophical perception of art and humankind, Umbrella. 8.5 x 5.5 X .25 inches, edition of 500. $25


YOU & I CARDGAME, 1986-2007
A hand-crafted double-boxed game of 200 original-text cards about Art and Life. Rules are included, but purchasers are encouraged to vary them. Two players organize and trade word-cards, slowly revealing attitudes toward self and other. Originally designed to play with art/life performer Linda Montano in the window of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, Easter Sunday, 1986. Re-created pages and handmade inner box, fitted outer box, labels, and rubber stamps, 3.75 x 4.25 x 2 inches, edition of 12. $500

4 archival digital print collages of scanned articles of clothing belonging to the artist, and still worn, since the 1960s; Each piece comprises 12 prints, sewn back-to-back and together by the artist with black cotton thread. Each is placed in Artelope See-Throughs, and hung by Steel Binding Rings suspended from Blond Wooden Hangars, 26 x 38 inches each, complete set of 4, $2800

Individual Prints

Button Pins Shirts, Garment Bag Installation, 1983-2009
Clothing rack, transparent empty suitcase, canvas-and-clear garment bag, wooden hangers and a suite of 4 shirts pinned with 65, 2-1/4 inch Button Pins (circular) and Blank Name Badges (rectangular) bearing existential text and/or imagery.
The pins are designed, printed and manufactured by the artist on her hand-operated button pin machine. Inside each collar is Rosenthal’s clothing label (Red Rubber Name Stamp on white linen, hand sewn with black cotton embroidery thread, with her trademark knotted trailing threads). Shirt is Carhardt XL thermal cotton, the brand and size Rosenthal owns and wears during performances with these same pins. Each shirt is displayed hung on a wooden hanger, and is approximately 18 x 42 inches. The suite of 4 is packaged on wooden hangars in a clear-and-cotton-canvas zipped garment view-bag (42 x 22 x 3 inches); for transport and storage, bag and contents are folded (hangars separated) down into a clear plastic suitcase viewing box (14 x 17 x 6.75 inches). $5000

Button Pins: Boxed Set, 1983-2007
Photographs, video stills, digitized images and text, in metal button pins attached to paper. In a sturdy white box, 10 self-contained 6 x 6 inch pages with 13 real 2-1/4 inch button pins designed, printed and manufactured by the artist on her hand-operated button pin machine. Signature etched into back of each pin. Box also contains: Artist’s statement and bonus material. Number 4 from an edition of 10, Boxed set. $1200

Button Pin Pages. $100

Sensations, 1984
A novel composed of 47 surreal photographs and 50 fables and writings. Each doublepage is an arena in which acute sensations release insight into humanity, personality, life, art and language. 48 pages. 5.52 x 8.25 inches. Emlock binding, printed spine, black, white and yellow cover, offset, published by Visual Studies Workshop Press. $15


Sensations: I gave my unconscious a camera and typewriter, and tried not to interfere. I try to enter a trance state when I go photographing. These dreamlike images are what result from that. The stories come some from notes and incidents in my Journals, and some from an exercise I gave myself to write one story every dawn at my window on Avenue B in 1975. I set all the type, at a place called The Print Center in Brooklyn, by hand-counting characters and figuring leading and all that so that each story fit on its own page or double page or segment of a page with the photo or photos I chose to accompany it/it. I chose these companions intuitively. I always try to work from some trance portion of my brain, not the logical or analytical or documentary or already blocked out portions. Linda Montano read my palm in the window of the New Museum in 1986 before she knew me, and said of a line that it showed a “direct line from experience to the ‘creative unconscious.'” So, to borrow her phrase, everything in this book, maybe more than any of my others, comes from my creative unconscious.

Clothing Prints: I made these prints from some of my clothes. I’ve had a lot of my clothes since the ’60s, and I still wear them. Naturally, they’re turning to rags and disintegrating. I keep sewing them back together, and reforming them by sewing them together with one another. So they don’t disappear altogether, I made one of my interns put them on my scanner, but they were too big, so she scanned them in sections, and when I printed them out, I sewed the sections together, and when they didn’t quite fit on the pages, I reproportioned them in Photoshop.

Commonly worn to publicly announced political opinion, button pins are provocatively used to voice inner personal thoughts silently shared by many. The medium is not the message.

Theme: Art + Artist, Art + Life, Public + Private, Existentialism, Identity, Communication, Language.


Born in The Bronx, in 1948, Barbara Rosenthal is an avant-garde artist who produces idiosyncratic combinations of words, communicative sounds, gestures, objects and pictures. Her zany, philosophical, content-rich, and often humorous work investigates the relationship between an artist’s psyche and the outer world, with the anthropological extrapolation of that relationship to that of all human beings.

All objects and images are produced directly by her, and comprise objects and materials used by her in the course of real life, plus an occasional addition of resonant found or appropriated sources and quotations.

Her videos have screened at the NY Jewish Museum, Anthology Film Archives, The Kitchen, Berlin Directors Lounge and Berlin Lettretage, and her artist’s books are in the collections of MoMA, The Whitney, The Tate and the Berlin Kunstbibliotek. She’s been reviewed in Flash Art International, NYArts, The Village Voice and The NY TImes. This year, she represented the United States in two media, Performance Art and Text-Based Art, at Tina B: The Prague Contemporary Art Festival, and her text-art appeared as billboards in the city of Padua, Italy.

She began keeping Journals and writing professionally (a weekly column in a Long Island newspaper) at age 11, and the professional study of art at age 14 (Brooklyn Museum Art School, with Isaac Soyer). She created her first Performance/Installation piece, “Self Portrait Room”, in 1968, before those genres were named. She has the usual degrees from good universities, and has been teaching art, media, and literary subjects at good and mediocre colleges for thirty years.

Barbara Rosenthal Website