Susan Rothenberg (1945-2020) was born in Buffalo, New York and received her BFA from Cornell University in 1967. Rothenberg rose to prominence in 1975 with her first New York solo exhibition at alternative art space 112 Greene Street. It consisted of three large paintings of horses. Almost 20 years later Peter Schjeldahl, when writing about her 1993 Albright-Knox retrospective, called that 1975 exhibition, a “eureka” moment because, for him and some artists, it brought painting back from the dead, having “introduced symbolic imagery into Minimalist abstraction.” In 1978, she was included in “New Image Painting” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Though often associated with this series of work, Rothenberg only painted horses for a short time in her career, and through the 1980s quickly moved on to explore other subjects, including heads, hands and other fragments of the human form, which morphed into a series of figures in motion–dancers, vaulters, spinners and jugglers. Rothenberg lived and worked in New York for nearly 20 years until 1990 when she moved to New Mexico. In this new setting, Rothenberg drew imagery from her daily life and physical surroundings in the New Mexico desert. Here she continued to draw upon her longtime ability to challenge and expand painterly conventions in her distinctive way of organizing pictorial space and her exploration of light, color, form and movement.
Rothenberg had numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including 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). Others 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); “Susan Rothenberg: Paintings from the Nineties” 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, “Moving in Place,” 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. In 1987, Rothenberg had her first solo exhibition at Sperone Westwater, where she exhibited regularly (1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2016 and 2020).