Lawrence Rothbort, 1961
Lawrence Rothbort, 1961

Lawrence Rothbort 1920-1963, son of prominent American artist, Samuel Rothbort, was born in Brooklyn, NY and achieved fame for his heavily wrought expressionist canvases, earning comparison to Vincent Van Gogh.


At the age of 24, Rothbort left his home in Brooklyn, for the Poconos, where he spent one year. In 1945, convinced that he would become an artist, returned to his parents home in Brooklyn where he worked long hours, grinding his own paints and self trained, experimented in oils and watercolors, pen and ink. He developed several new techniques that would mark his work, such as the application of paint to the canvas with sharpened twigs and the combination of oil paint with glass mosaic.


Rothbort never worked from photographs, and went on location to paint in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, where he often traveled with his supplies in a baby carriage.


In 1955, he married and in 1960, Rothbort established a small gallery behind the family's storefront apartment. In 1963, Rothbort was murdered in his studio by a robber whom Rothbort had denied the fifteen dollars he had for grocery money. He left a pregnant wife and two small children.


His death sparked a memorial exhibit four months later which was held at the Riverside Musuem and received outstanding reviews praising the then undiscovered artist. One critic viewing the memorial exhibit  said "He was odd, inexplicable, and I think he developed an insularity you can feel in his work." Another reviewer wrote, "If some of the gallery visitors come looking for the birth of an American Van Gogh, not all of them go away disappointed."


Rothbort's signature was in fact his lack of it. As he always claimed, his work was too original to have been done by anyone else. Most of his work is not signed, only some of his earlier pieces were.