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© Helaine Messer

© Helaine Messer

Born in Buffalo, New York, Susan Rothenberg (1945-2020) was an American painter, printmaker, sculptor, and draughtswoman. Rothenberg first gained recognition as an artist in 1975 with her first New York solo exhibition at 112 Greene Street, and, in 1978, was thereafter included in New Image Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Celebrated for the iconic profile horse paintings she created during this period, Rothenberg only painted horses for a short period and quickly moved on to explore other subjects through the 1980s including heads, hands and other fragments of the human form. These subsequent motifs evolved into series of figures in motion including dancers, vaulters, spinners and jugglers. These complex and symbolic figurative works were characteristically full of color and movement. Rothenberg lived and worked in New York until 1990 when she moved to New Mexico with fellow artist and husband, Bruce Nauman. Inspired by her new physical surroundings, Rothenberg’s later work drew upon imagery from her daily life in the New Mexico desert. As in her earlier works, these paintings are characterized by thickly layered, energetic brushwork and exhibit the artist's enduring interest in exploring the relationship between images and surface. Susan Rothenberg died on May 18, 2020, in New Mexico.

Susan Rothenberg received her BFA from Cornell University in 1967. Her solo exhibitions include early presentations at Kunsthalle Basel (1981-82), the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1982) and an exhibition organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that traveled to seven institutions in the United States and abroad (1983-85). Later exhibitions include a retrospective organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo that traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum, The Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Seattle Art Museum, and the Dallas Museum of Art (1992-94); a survey at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey, Mexico (1996-97), at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1999); and an exhibition of drawings and prints at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University which traveled to the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu and the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe (1998-99). A survey exhibition was organized by Michael Auping, at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and traveled to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe and the Miami Art Museum (2009-11). Rothenberg’s work is in important public and private collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Hall Collection; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

The Estate of Susan Rothenberg is represented by Sperone Westwater in New York.