Homage to Goya by James Mahlon Rosen

Homage to Goya by James Mahlon Rosen

Homage to Goya

James Mahlon Rosen

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Homage to Goya

wax & oil emulsion on canvas 
Image Size
40 x 40"  
ink signed on the upper stretcher bar, verso 
Edition Size
dated and medium noted in ink, after signature, verso 
Inventory ID

Rosen uses his signature style to pay homage a known work - in this case, Francisco Goya's "The Straw Manikin"- obscuring the definite and reducing the composition to just "light", inviting the viewer to meditate on the work. For many, the more time spent with a Rosen painting, the more the content comes into focus, but the viewer has to be involved.

San Francisco critic Thomas Albright commented about his work on pages 226-7 of 'Art in the San Francsico Bay Area 1945 - 1980': "James Rosen's painting of the late 1970s...were uniquely luminous abstractions of natural forms that approached the vanishing point of minimalist field painting. He used [paint] to translate the highlights and shadows...into the sparest of gray and beige washes, and oils to reduce them further to greater or lesser concentrations of light on grounds that were virtually identical in hue and value. "Rosen later explored other areas of subject matter...figurative images derived from the painting of the early Renaissance masters. Fragmented, tenuous, and yet persistent, these ghost-like icons projected great poignancy."

Goya's "The Straw Manikin", commonly known by its original title "El pelele", was painted in 1791-'92 for Charles IV when Goya was the official court painter. Meant to be a genre piece showing a popular carnival game, it is now thought to be a thinly veiled commentary about the decline of traditional Spanish masculinity: a group of smiling young women are gathered in a circle holding a large cloth, tossing a straw man with a paper mask into the air.

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", 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 had been Artist/Critic with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.<

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


Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email artannex@aol.com to purchase this item.