The Life and Career of Tony Rosenthal

Black and White Photograph of Tony Rosenthal in his Workshop


Born Bernard Rosenthal (nicknamed Tony), in Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.  


Attended sculpture classes at The Art Institute of Chicago during last two years of high school.


Attended The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Decided to become sculptor while taking a sculpture course. Graduated with B.A.


Returned to Chicago and rented a garage for use as a studio. Began giving evening classes in drawing and sculpture. Contacted Alexander Archipenko, then living in Chicago. Took a sculpture class with him in exchange for casting in terracotta a series of Archipenko’s semi-abstract reclining nudes.


Began carving works in granite and marble. To improve technique, apprenticed part-time with stonecutter. Worked part-time for the Chicago branch of Saks Fifth Avenue creating sculptures for display.


Designed and made light fixtures and plaster decorations for interiors of Chicago theaters designed by architect William Pereira and his brother, designer Hal Pereira. Other projects for William Pereira included "A Nubian Slave" (1939, Cast Cement, 15 x 5 x 5 feet), Rosenthal's first sculpture commission and first large-scale work, which was created for the Elgin Watch Company building at the New York World's Fair of 1939. 


Inspired by two fountains in Chicago by the well-known figurative sculptor Carl Milles, a sculptor-in-residence at the recently established Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Rosenthal wrote to Milles and enrolled at Cranbrook. Studied with Milles and become friends with the designer Charles Eames and the architect Eero Saarinen.


Returned to Chicago and continued carving in stone. Participated in his first group exhibition, "51st Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture," The Art Institute of Chicago (Mother and Child, granite). 


Showed the Hands of Moses, "45th Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity," The Art Institute of Chicago. Rosenthal’s first work to enter a museum, Illinois State Museum, Springfield.

Produced Wall of Time (bronze plate, 10 x 8 feet), a relief and his second work of public sculpture, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Spent several months in Oaxaca, Mexico, and further south; journeyed by foot, sketching and collecting Pre-Columbian art. Called back to Chicago for WW II draft but declared 4F because of a disease contracted in Mexico.


Attended Corps of Engineers Officer Candidate School in Virginia after a year in the infantry. Stationed in England and commanded a unit consisting mostly of artists working on topographical models.


Sent to Paris after its liberation to produce models of French, Italian, and German terrain for use by the U.S. Army and Air Force.


Co-organized visits by American soldiers to artists' studios after VE Day through a program established by a French/American cultural relations committee. Took groups to studios of George Braque, Andre Derain, Le Corbusier, and Constantin Brancusi. Taught sculpture for six months in Biarritz, France at a university set up by the Army to educate GIs waiting to return to the United States.


Married Halina Kolowicz, a French resident who had taken his classes, in St. Jean-de-Luz, France.

Returned to Chicago in July and discharged from the Army. In the fall, won a group show competition at Associated American Artists Galleries, Chicago. Moved to Los Angeles, encouraged by Charles and Ray Eames. Hired to lay out editorial sections and some covers of Arts & Architecture between 1946 and 1948. Continued to work intermittently for the magazine until the early 1960s.


First solo exhibition, at Pat Wall Gallery, Monterey, California.

Solo exhibition at Associated American Artists Galleries, Chicago.


Began meeting prominent architects in Los Angeles during a building boom. Commissioned over the next twelve years by a number of them to do sculptures for buildings they were designing in Los Angeles and elsewhere. With wife, Halina designed a home and studio in Malibu.  


Received first prize at "69th Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture," San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (The Harp Player, bronze), and a purchase prize for the same piece in a group show of Los Angeles artists, Los Angeles County Museum. First New York solo exhibition at Associated American Artists Galleries.


Participated in "American Sculpture 1951," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (The Three Musicians, bronze), and in "146th Annual Exhibition," Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (Crucifixion, bronze). Solo exhibition, organized by the Western Museum Directors Association, traveled to three museums in California, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1952), Long Beach Museum of Art (1952). 


First instructor of sculpture at University of California, Los Angeles. Solo exhibition, organized by the Western Museum Directors Association, traveled to three museums in California, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1952), Long Beach Museum of Art (1952).    


Participated in “Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Installed The Family Group at Police Facilities Building, Los Angeles, California. Commissioned to create an outdoor wall sculpture and a menorah for Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills, California. Participated in “Ill Bienal de Arte,” Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Home and studio in Malibu destroyed by fire. Sculptures lain outside survived but with a flame-induced color. These were shown in a solo exhibition at Viviano Gallery, New York in 1959.


Exhibited in “LXII American Exhibition: Paintings,” The Art Institute of Chicago.


Installed Computer Symbols at IBM’s western headquarters, Los Angeles, California. The work was based on an oscilloscope pattern from a digital computer.

Participated in “Contemporary American Sculpture,” Exposition universelle et internationale de Bruxelles, United States Pavillion, Brussels.

Second show at Viviano Gallery, New York.  


Participated in “Recent Sculpture, USA,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibited sculpture was selected for acquisition. Went to New York for the exhibition and met New York artists such as Herbert Ferber, Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko and Richard Stankiewicz. For Computer Symbols (see 1958), received the Award of Merit for outstanding craftsmanship in the fine arts from the Southern California Chapter of the A.I.A.


Third exhibition at Viviano Gallery, New York. Awarded a Tamarind Fellowship from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, California. Worked in collaboration with master printers to create black-and-white abstract lithographs. Moved from Los Angeles to New York.


First show at Kootz Gallery, New York. Sam Kootz persuaded Rosenthal to use his nickname “Tony” professionally.


Participated in “Art Since 1950, American and International,” Seattle World’s Fair, Washington.

Included in “157th Annual Exhibition,” Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia and in “Annual Exhibition 1962: Contemporary Sculpture and Drawings,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Two Sculptures acquired by Whitney.


Showed at “Eleventh Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting & Sculpture 1963,” Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The Museum purchased the work using a grant from the Ford Foundation. Commissioned to make two wall-like sculptures, Gateway Buildings, Century City, Los Angeles.


Third and last solo exhibition at Kootz Gallery, New York, followed by the retirement of Sam Kootz.

Solo exhibition at Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York.

Joined M. Knoedler & Co. Gallery, New York.

Included in “Sculpture and Painting Today: Selections from the Collection of Susan Morse Hilles,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Participated in a group exhibition organized by The American Federation of Arts that traveled to Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin.


“The Alamo” installed at Astor Place as part of “Sculpture in Environment,” a citywide temporary installation of approximately twenty-five public sculptures, sponsored by the New York City Administration of Recreation and Cultural Affairs and organized by Doris C. Freedman, then Special Assistant for Cultural Affairs. In response to requests by members of the immediate community, the sculpture remained in place and was given to the city by Susan Morse Hilles and the artist.

“Alamo” was one of the first abstract sculptures permanently installed in New York and is currently one of five works by Rosenthal in outdoor public locations in Manhattan. Recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  


“Endover” installed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. First solo exhibition at Knoedler Gallery, New York. Included in “1968 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Sculpture,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Commissioned to make a freestanding steel wall for the entrance to the art department campus, California State University, Fullerton, California. “Rondo” commissioned for area in front of an office building, 110 East 59th Street, New York. Later placed in front of the 127 East 58th Street branch of the New York Public Library.


Created “Kepaakala (Sun Disc),” commissioned by the Financial Center of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.


“Odyssey I,” included in the “11 Biennial Middelheim Antwerpen,” Open Air Museum of Sculpture Middelheim, Antwerp and acquired by the museum.


Installed a stainless steel column at the Sunrise Mall, Massapequa, New York.  “Cube ‘72,” installed in front of Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York. “Memorial Cube,” installed at Connecticut College, new London, Connecticut, in honor of Dene Laib Ulin, Class of 1952.


Began the installation of “5 in 1” at Police Plaza, New York.


With John Chamberlain, Dimitri Hadzi and others participated in the Oregon International Sculpture Symposium, which was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and organized by Sculpture Associates in Eugene. Constructed an outdoor sculpture with the assistance of young sculptors.

Commissioned by the architect Minoru Yamasaki to create a brass ark, a walnut wall to stand behind it and a menorah in brass for Temple Beth El, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.


“Odyssey II” acquired by Yale university, New Haven, Connecticut. Received the Fine Art Award for “5 in 1,” One Police Plaza, New York, from the Design in Steel Award Program, American Iron and Stell Institute, Washington, D.C.


A Holocaust memorial commissioned by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo, Getzville, New York. “Hammarskjold,” constructed at Hammarskjold Plaza, Second Avenue and 47th Street, New York. Acquired by the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York (1978).


Transcending acquired by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Participated in a panel discussion, “Fifty Years of American Sculpture,” Sculpture Center, New York.


Constructed and installed “Element ‘H’ x 5” in the gymnasium of P.S. 1 (The Institute for Art and Urban Resources), Queens, New York. “SteelPark” installed at 80th Street and First Avenue, New York, commissioned by Jack Resnick & Sons, builders. Solo exhibition of Maquettes and installation of “Cranbrook Ingathering,” Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Lectured on contemporary sculpture, Empire State Mall, Albany, New York.


Constructed “Bronco,” atrium of an office building, 1010 Lamar, Houston, Texas.


Commissioned by the City of New York to design and execute the annual Doris C. Freedman Award, given by the mayor to a person or organization for significantly enriching the public environment. Executed fifteen copies of the brass Maquette for “The Alamo, 1967.”


Commissioned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to make a 14-foot-high version of Odyssey for a public park next to Metropolitan Hospital.  Designed a version of “SteelPark” as a commission for the Culmer Metro-Rail Station, Miami.  Participated on a panel about public sculpture, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana and on a panel about new sculpture, along with Louise Nevelson, Carl Andre and moderator Sam Hunter, Princeton University, New Jersey. Participated in “Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision 1925-1950,” which traveled to The Detroit Institute of Arts (1983-84); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (1984); Suomen Taideteollisuusyhdistys, Helsinki, Finland (1984); Musee des arts decoratifs, Paris (1984-85); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1985).


Created a bronze disc, commissioned by Florence Knoll Bassett for the lobby of Southeast National Bank, Miami, Florida. Received an Award in Art and participated in “Work by Newly Elected Members and Recipients of Honors and Awards,” American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York.

Performed in Ubu Repertory Theater’s production of Pablo Picasso’s play Catch Desire by the Tail, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The cast included: Beverly Pepper, June Wayne, Philippine de Rothschild, David Hockney, Louise Bourgeois, Red Grooms, Francoise Gilot and Jack Youngerman.


Participated in a sculpture exhibition at Millesgarden, Lidingo, Sweden


Adopt a Monument, a program sponsored by the Municipal Art Society, New York, led to the refurbishing of “The Alamo” by Lippincott, the fabrication company in North Haven, Connecticut, that originally fabricated the sculpture.


Joined Galerie Denise Rene, Paris and had a solo exhibition. “Element ‘H’ x 5” and four other sculptures moved to Top Gallant, a private sculpture farm in Pawling, New York, belonging to art dealer Andre Emmerich. Those works and others that followed remained on long-term loan. Installation of “Pass-Thru,” Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.


East Hampton Village Design Review Board resolved that no additional work besides Rosenthal’s “Cube’72,” placed in front of Guild Hall in 1972, could be installed on Main Street. Received honorary doctorate from Hofstra University. Installed “Indiana Totem,” atrium, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington. Made horizontally in Rosenthal’s studio.


Works from two series, “J.S. Bach Fugue” and “J.S. Bach Variations,” shown at Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York; Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington (1991).


Commissioned by collector Kirk Landon to construct a bench, Coral Gables, Florida. Halina Rosenthal passed away after a long illness. The Rosenthals had been married for forty-five years.


Solo exhibition at Jaffe, Baker, Blau Gallery, Boca Rotan, Florida. Participated in a sculpture exhibition, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan. The museum acquired a bronze cube.


Married Cynthia Dillon.


Solo exhibition at Dorothy Blau Gallery, Miami. Installed “J.S. Bach Variation #9,” Ravinia Music Festival Park, Highland Park, Illinois.


Two large sculptures, “Cube’97” and a Steel Bench, acquired by Harry Wilks, founder of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, Hamilton, Ohio. “House of the Minotaur” acquired by Laumeier Sculpture Park & Museum, St. Louis, Missouri. A Bench purchased by American Bankers Assurance Co., Miami, for the outside of its building.


“Odyssey II,” acquired by Yale University in 1975, installed in sculpture garden of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.


Participated in the exhibition “Welded! Sculpture of the Twentieth Century,” Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York.


Moved to South Hampton. New York.


Tony Rosenthal's "The Alamo” 1967 is unveiled by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a ceremony marking its return after being refurbished by the City's Parks Department.


Tony Rosenthal's "Alamo” 1967 was the Final Visual Clue on CBS’s The Amazing Race season finale.


Tony Rosenthal died at the age of 94 in his Southampton, NY home with his loving wife Cynthia at his side on July 28, 2009.