Susan Rothenberg: The Height The Width The Weight

Installation Views
Press release

You have to start with knocking out your favourite things, or else the painting can't change. You can't get hooked on fixing things. You have to be willing to go, 'That's great. Goodbye.'
- Susan Rothenberg

GRIMM is proud to announce a solo exhibition with Susan Rothenberg (US, 1945) in Amsterdam. The exhibition marks the 35th anniversary of her last exhibition in the Netherlands at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1982 and focuses on recent works.

Looking at a Rothenberg painting is an existential experience. Best known for introducing imagery into minimalist abstraction and bringing a new sensitivity to figuration, two of the most important threads that run through her work are the human touch and the nature of human engagement.

Nine major works will be exhibited in the gallery at the Frans Halsstraat, including The Height The Width The Weight (2009-2010), a painting depicting disembodied hands that encircle a pinkish aureole surrounded by a flurry of blue brushstrokes. Another presented work is The Master (2008), depicting various marionette body parts strewn over the canvas, while remnants of the arms of a lonely puppeteer dangle a remaining piece of string into the grey vacuum of the canvas, still trying to regain control.

Red, also from 2008, takes the viewer one step further. Here the fragments: heads, arms and legs, become a visual aid serving to demonstrate how the human shape can be transformed into a study of space and form. On the surface, this combination of flat ground and abstracted figuration leaves little room for narrative; however, Rothenberg’s paintings often leave just enough for viewers to do their own storytelling.

Over the course of her career, Rothenberg has pushed the vocabulary of painting and created canvases of poetic beauty that celebrate the artistic process. She is considered a pioneer of New Image Painting, the title of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s landmark exhibition from 1978 that radically broke with the abstract and minimal art of the past decades. As Roberta Smith put it, Rothenberg is “the most prominent of her New Image colleagues, and her work becomes increasingly complex in its use of narrative and space.”