Harold Rosenberg.
The Tradition of the New

History and theory of contemporary art

A collection of essays from one of the major US art critics of the Twentieth Century.

Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978) was a Professor at Chicago University, a visiting Professor at Princeton University and at Southern Illinois University, an art critic, an editor at The New Yorker. He was the author of articles on American art in the 20th Century, aesthetics and the history of culture.

The texts by Harold Rosenberg that went into the book “The Tradition of the New” are not thematically limited to US visual art. They are dedicated to various aspects of cultural and art history. Rosenberg explores the interaction of phenomena of poetic creativity, mass culture and social life and offers his own theory of the displacement of world centres of cultural production.

The book is composed of four parts: “American Painting Today”, “The Profession of Poetry”, “War of Phantoms” and “The Herd of Independent Minds”. In the essay “American Action Painters” Rosenberg, analyzing the work of Pollock, Kooning and Kline, introduced the term “action painting”.

If the sole thing of significance for modern art is the novelty of the work, and it is defined not by an analysis but by its social power and didactic value, then the avant-garde artist will exist in a milieu completely indifferent to the content of his work.

– Harold Rosenberg