James Mahlon Rosen Biography

James Mahlon Rosen




Painter James Mahlon Rosen was born December 3, 1933 in Detroit, Michigan. He credits early exposure to art at the Detroit Institute of Arts with kindling his desire to draw and paint. After graduating high school he took courses at Cooper Union under Nicholas Mariscano, then completed his degrees at Wayne State University and Cranbrook Academy of Arts. Over time he developed an oil and wax emulsion technique that allowed him to layer colors in a transluscent manner, with some of his works resembling watercolors. These he would paint over with monotonal hues he called "veils", so that the works can be "completed by the observer". In an interview with the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, June 4, 2011, he notes that he uses the Aristotelian term "entelechy" - "to hold something back", to as inspiration for this technique. 

Rosen was a professor of art history and painting at the University of Hawaii, University of California at Berkeley, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Augusta College where he was the William S. Morris Eminent Scholar in Art. He has been Artist/Critic with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Selected solo exhibitions include: Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, St. Louis University, 2010 (retrospective); Gallery Paul Anglim, San Francisco (2003); Timken Art Museum, San Diego (1991); Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Italy (1986); Betty Parsons Gallery, New York (1980). Group exhibitions include: Gallery Artists, Mary Pauline Gallery, Georgia (2006); Homage to Betty Parsons, New York (1999); Newfoundland Drawings, Baird Gallery, Canada (1999); Faculty Exhibition, Museum of American Art, Philidelphia (1998); Southern Drawl, Montgomery Museum, Alabama (1997); On the Edge, Rosa Esman Gallery, New York (1990); American Watercolors, San Diego Museum of Art (1983); Spring Penthouse Show, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973).

His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Palazzo Schifanois, Italy; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cranbrook Museum of Art Museum; and Arizona State University Art Museum.

Among his grants, awards, residencies, and honors is included the Artist Residency, Fundacion Valaparaiso, Spain (2002); Visiting Artist/Critic and Lecturer, Hope College, Michigan (1998); Artist of the Year, Phi Kappa Phi, Louisiana (1997); Director, the Meyer Schapiro Fund, Augusta State University, Georgia (1996); Artist in Residence, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Italy (1984); Djerassi Foundation Fellowship in Painting, Woodside, California (1983), among others. His essays, art criticisms, and lectures have been included in a variety of publications.

James Mahlon Rosen died in Queens, New York, on February 5, 2023.