Daniel Rothbart and the Phoenix
Pedrini, Enrico, Daniel Rothbart and the Phoenix, NYArts, New York, September, 1999.
Daniel Rothbart is an American artist of the younger generation whose interests are not limited to a formal investigation of the language of art, but extend to new fields of endeavor. He is an acute observer of cultural systems and environments that interact with contemporary art. Through his studio work and the written word, he has helped to shape a new direction for American art that remains distinct from European issues and concerns. In a refreshingly new way, Rothbart affirms the need to explore religious, social-historical, and cultural values in a multi-ethnic, highly specialized society. Jewish mysticism influenced the development of post-war American art, and in Rothbart’s work cabbalistic symbolism is transformed into the basis of a personal mythology.
Rothbart’s sculpture embodies a surreal poetic drawn from the realm of myth, and his imagery develops out of the historical sedimentation of life experience and scholarship. His fantastic world of myth prompts one to reconsider the sacred as a point of interaction where icons and symbols converge and undergo changes of meaning. Semiotic Street Situations, a term invented by Rothbart, becomes the stage where symbolic, social, and cultural exchanges occur.
Daniel Rothbart always develops relationships between individuals and between people and objects. For his artist’s book The Phoenix, Rothbart works with cinema and visual arts myths, whose protagonists animate the theater of life and culture. In the popular imagination his subjects become ever-changing signifiers that shape cultural identities and condition behavior.