Untitled (Horse) 1979
Susan Rothenberg's painting
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Since the mid-1970s, Rothenberg has been recognized as one of the most innovative and independent artists of the contemporary period; in 2010, New York Times art critic David Belcher wrote that comparisons between Rothenberg and Georgia O'Keeffe had "become hard to avoid." From her early years in SoHo through her move to New Mexico's desert landscape, Rothenberg has remained as influenced and challenged by her physical surroundings as she is by artistic issues and personal experiences. In addition to her earliest horse paintings, Rothenberg has taken on numerous forms as subject matter, such as dancing figures, heads and bodies, animals, and atmospheric landscapes. Rothenberg's visceral canvases have continued to evolve, as she explores the boundary between figural representation and abstraction; her work also examines the role of color and light, and the translation of her personal experience to a painterly surface.
Rothenberg’s first solo exhibition in New York in 1975, consisting of three large-scale paintings of horses, was heralded for introducing imagery into minimalist abstraction, while bringing a new sensitivity to figuration. Critic Peter Schjeldahl called the show “a eureka,” stating that “the large format of the pictures was a gesture of ambition,” and that “the mere reference to something really existing was astonishing.”
Although best-knownt as a painter, Rothenberg has also made crucial contributions to the medium of drawing. On the occasion of her 2004 exhibition of drawings at Sperone Westwater, Robert Storr wrote, “...fundamentally, drawing is as much a matter of evocation as it is of depiction, of identifying the primary qualities of things in the world and transposing them without a loss of quiddity. This at any rate is what drawing has been for Rothenberg.”
Rothenberg has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Her first major survey, initiated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Institute, and the Tate Gallery, London, among other institutions (1983–1985). Recent exhibitions include a retrospective organized by Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo (1992–1994), which traveled to Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Chicago, and Seattle (1992); a retrospective at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey, Mexico (1996); a survey of prints and drawings presented by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (1998); and Susan Rothenberg: Paintings from the Nineties at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1999). Rothenberg has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant (1979), the Cornell University Alumni Award (1998), the Skowhegan Medal for Painting (1998), and Sweden's Rolf Schock Prize (2003).
Rothenberg married the artist Bruce Nauman in 1989.
- 1978 "Susan Rothenberg, Recent Work," Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 20 May – 2 July (catalogue)
- 1981–1982 “Susan Rothenberg,” Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, 3 October – 15 November; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, 7 December – 31 January; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark, 13 March – 2 May (catalogue); “Susan Rothenberg,” Akron Art Museum, Ohio, 21 November – 10 January
- 1982 “Susan Rothenberg: Recent Paintings,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 14 October – 29 November (catalogue)
- 1983–1985 “Susan Rothenberg,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, 1 September – 16 October; San Francisco Museum of Art, California, 10 November – 25 December; Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 18 January – 18 March 1984; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 10 April – 3 June; Aspen Center for the Visual Arts, Colorado, 1 July – 19 August; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, 9 September – 21 October; Tate Gallery, London, 21 November – 20 January 1985; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 26 February – 27 March (catalogue); “Currents,” ICA, Boston, April.
- 1985 “Centric 13: Susan Rothenberg—Works on Paper,” University Art Museum, California State Center, Long Beach, 12 March – 21 April; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, 21 June – 28 July (catalogue); “Susan Rothenberg, Prints,” Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, September – October
- 1988 “Drawing Now: Susan Rothenberg,” Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland, 23 February – 4 April
- 1990 “Susan Rothenberg,” Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden, 30 June – 17 August 1990 (catalogue)
- 1992–94 "Susan Rothenberg, Paintings and Drawings, 1974–1992," Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 14 November 1992 – 3 January *1993; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 10 February – 9 May 1993: The Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO., 27 May – 25 July 1993; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 20 August – 24 October 1993; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA., 17 November – 9 January 1994; The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, 30 January – 27 March 1994 (catalogue)
- 1995 "Focus Series," Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 18 February – 2 July
- 1996–97 "Susan Rothenberg," MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico, 4 October 1996 – 19 January 1997 (catalogue)
- 1998–99 "Susan Rothenberg: Drawings and Prints," Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 22 August – 25 October; The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI, 15 January–14 March; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM, 21 March – 24 May (catalogue)
- 1999–2000 "Susan Rothenberg: Paintings from the 90's," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MFA, 18 November 1999 – 17 January 2000 (Catalogue)
- 2009–2010 "Susan Rothenberg: Moving In Place," Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, 18 October 2009 – 3 January 2010
- David Belcher, "Another Painter in O'Keefe Territory," The New York Times, 8 April 2010.
- Harry N. Abrams, Inc., published a major monograph on Rothenberg written by Joan Simon (Simon, Joan, Susan Rothenberg, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991).
- Biography, interviews, essays, artwork images and video clips from PBS series Art:21 -- Art in the Twenty-First Century - Season 3 (2005).
- 1987 New York Times on Horse Paintings
- Sperone Westwater - Artist page
- Sperone Westwater - Works
- Waddington Galleries