It is with sadness that we announce the passing of artist Susan Rothenberg.
“Since 1987, I have been privileged to show Susan Rothenberg’s work and to experience close up her passion for and commitment to making art. As a pioneer, she extended the boundaries of painting—especially for other women artists,” says Angela Westwater, founding partner of Sperone Westwater.
Rothenberg rose to prominence in 1975 with her first solo exhibition at alternative art space 112 Greene Street. Consisting of three large-scale paintings of horses, it was heralded for introducing imagery into minimalist abstraction and bringing a new sensitivity to figuration. A group of her iconic horse paintings was included in “New Image Painting” at the Whitney in 1978, followed by “Zeitgeist” at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin in 1982, where she was the only woman included in a group of 45 artists.
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 with her husband Bruce Nauman. 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.
On the occasion of her exhibition at Sperone Westwater this past January, Alfred Mac Adam wrote in The Brooklyn Rail: “The only thing we can ask of this great artist is that she never stop working and never abandon the commitment to radical ambiguity that fuels our own creative and imaginative responses to her images.”
Photo: Susan Rothenberg, Photographed By Jason Schmidt.