There has often been a divide between the disciplines of art and science and though the battle lines are deep there are few who possess the skill to not only cross the line but to excel in both as well. No truer words could be spoken for the Abstract Expressionist painter, poet, photographer and mathematician, Jack Roth - a man who was represented by Knoedler & Co., one of the most renowned galleries at that time, and who taught at prominent universities.
Born in Brockway, Pennsylvania in 1927 Jack Roth enrolled at Pennsylvania State University in 1943, but his tenure there was interrupted by his service in World War II. In 1949 he traveled to San Francisco where he was first introduced to the Bay Area group of abstract painters. Enrolling at the California School of Fine Arts, he studied painting under Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, and Elmer Bischoff.
He then returned to Pennsylvania where he completed his Bachelors degree in Chemistry in 1951. In need of a way to support his wife, Rachel, and their two children, Roth decided to teach art after he received a Master of Fine Arts at the State University of Iowa. After sending out hundreds of employment applications with little success, Roth chose to return to academia.
In 1954 he unsuccessfully applied for the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the field of photography. In the same year, his work was exhibited in the Younger American Painters show at the Guggenheim Museum of Art, alongside Jackson Pollack, William de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell — one of the first major debuts of the Abstract Expressionist movement to be shown at an American museum.
His next move, which Roth refers to his southern period, brought him to Duke University where he both taught classes and received a Doctorate in Mathematics. While writing his doctoral thesis, he continued to create art, and in 1963 William Lieberman, curator of drawing at the Museum of Modern Art, successfully recommended that the editors of the periodical Art in America name Roth the New Talent graphic artist. Also at this time, MoMA purchased several works from Roth for the museum's permanent collection.
In need of money Roth turned back to his degree and worked, albeit for short periods of time, at the University of Kentucky at Lexington and the University of Southern Florida before moving back north to Montclair, New Jersey. He was hired as the chairman of the Mathematics department at Upsala College. His employment there lasted for five years before he was fired for 'making waves'.
He found a new position at the recently opened Ramapo College in 1971, teaching both Mathematics and advanced painting. After he received tenure and his finances were secure, his artistic production thrived as he received the first Thomases Award for contributions at the school and was given a studio to work in. The space allowed him to work with larger canvases and become what he saw as an Abstract Expressionist Colorfield painter.
In 1978 the gallery, Knoedler & Co. in New York City began their representation of Jack Roth's work. At this time Knoedler & Co. represented Alexander Calder, Adolf Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, David Smith, Nancy Graves and Michael Goldberg. In 1979 he was rewarded with the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, and in the following two decades, Roth continued to balance his two loves, teaching and creating art.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
North Carolina Museum of Art
Exhibition Momentum Midcontinental, Chicago, Illinois
5th Annual Iowa Artists Exhibition, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
Younger American Painters, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (traveled to Portland Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts; Los Angeles County Museum; Isaac Delgado Museum, New Orleans)
15th Southeastern Annual, Atlanta, Georgia
1st Hunter Gallery Annual, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Knoxville Art Center National Exhibition, Knoxville, Tennessee
South Coast Art Show, Sarasota, Florida (traveled to High Museum, Atlanta; North Carolina Museum of Fine Arts, Raleigh; Mint Museum, Charlotte; Birmingham Museum, Alabama)
New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Graphics 63, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
(circulated by the Smithsonian Institution)
Group Show, Knoedler & Co., New York
Summer Group Show, Knoedler & Co., New York
June 21 - September 23, 1982.
Fall Show, Rosenberg Fine Arts, Ltd., Toronto, Canada
September 11 - October 16, 1982.
1949-50 Jack Roth, Contemporary Gallery, Sausalito, California
1963 Jack Roth, Grand Central Moderns, New York
Jack Roth, Cinema I and II, New York
1965 Jack Roth, Kornman Gallery, Tampa, Florida
1967 Jack Roth, University of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida
1978 Jack Roth, Ramapo College Art Gallery, Mahwah, New Jersey
1980 Jack Roth: Recent Paintings, Knoedler & Co., New York
Jack Roth: Ramapo Paintings, Clocktower, New York
Gallery 99 Presents the Paintings of Jack Roth, Gallery 99, Bay Harbor Island, Florida
1981 Jack Roth, Knoedler & Co., New York
1982 Jack Roth: Drawings, Ramapo College Art Gallery, Mahwah, New Jersey
1982 Jack Roth, Rosenberg Fine Arts, Ltd., Toronto, Canada
Jack Roth: Recent Paintings. Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey
1982-83 Jack Roth: Drawings and Watercolors. Ramapo College Art Gallery, Mahwah, New Jersey (traveled to Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio; Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia; Junior College of Albany, Albany, New York; Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey)
1983 Jack Roth, Millhouse-Bundy Museum, Vermont
Jack Roth, Ochi Gallery, Boise, Idaho
(Biography from Vincent Vallarino Fine Art LTD)