It is impossible to believe that Robert Rosenblum is dead. The unalloyed joy with which he confronted every work of art lingers after him like a symphony.
For many, Rosenblum’s Cubism in the Twentieth Century was the very first tome they read about modernism. His subsequent academic and curatorial career was a daily denial of inclement Greenbergism: Exalt kitsch! Embrace realism! Victory to the vulgar! Only Rosenblum could vindicate the outré as the highest expression of good taste.
The secret of his personal courage, seeing resurrection and renewal in the illness that kept failing to take him away, was the boy within him. Colette’s dictum that we are never adults but always perpetual children found its epitome in Rosenblum.
His eyes twinkled, his mouth crinkled, he was full of enchantment, and yet a perfect realist willing to dance for the dollars that Sotheby’s, he Guggenheim and the rest of the art world paid him to be entertained.
Yet Robert’s theme was truly "What I did for love." He loved art in all its often shabby glory, and art, animating itself, loved him back.
Robert was scholarship as vaudeville, the encyclopedia written on a cocktail napkin, a prestidigitator of the fantabulous. Somehow, on our little part of the world, the art part, he’ll always be here.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).