Rachel Rosenthal was one of the key figures in West Coast performance art, creating works that combined theatre, dance, multi-media staging and live music. Born in Paris in 1926 of Russian Jewish parents, she studied at the High School of Music and Art in New York, and then the Sorbonne in Paris. Moving back and forth between the two artistic capitals, she studied with Hans Hoffman, danced with Merce Cunningham, and formed relationships with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
A little known aspect of her early career centers on her study of engraving and etching with the English artist, Stanley William Hayter. Hayter founded his printmaking studio in Paris in 1927 and, after moving to No. 17 rue Campagne-Premiere in 1933, it became known as Atelier 17. In Paris, Hayter worked with artists such as Picasso and Giacometti and when he moved to New York during WWII, he worked with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and others. The circle of artists studying with Hayter with whom Rosenthal became friends included, Terry Haass, Wifredo Lam and Pierre Courtin.
These artists exhibited their etchings and engravings together at the IX Salon de Mai in Paris in 1953. The exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery will include Rosenthal’s works from this period, as well as works by those of her circle with whom she traded prints. Rosenthal moved to Los Angeles in 1955, becoming involved with the art scene surrounding Ferus Gallery; that same year, she created the experimental “Instant Theatre,” performing and directing it for ten years. She played a major role in the Women’s Art Movement in LA, co-founding Womanspace Gallery in 1973. Her place in performance art is legendary and her influence vast. She died in Los Angeles at the age of 88 in 2015.