Susan Rothenberg, born in Buffalo New York (US) in 1945, was a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and draughtswoman. She received her BFA from Cornell University in 1967 and then moved to New York City where she had her first exhibition at SoHo's progressive exhibition space, 112 Greene Street. Rothenberg came to prominence in the late 1970s, drawing attention for large-scale figurative paintings of horses which defied the prevalence of abstraction and Minimalism. Her iconic works from this period are replete with expressive energy, tension, and a deep understanding of the body. Rothenberg was a significant figure in the return to figurative painting of the 1980s; she was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's survey New Image Painting in 1978, the exhibition Zeitgeist at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin in 1982, and has since been associated with the development of both New Figuration and Neo-expressionism. In 1990 Rothenberg moved from New York City to rural New Mexico. It was from the 1990s onward when she transitioned to painting a broad range of symbolic subject matter, evoking her memories, experiences and observations. The artist's work evolved to incorporate a larger range of color, but retained an acute sensitivity to the composition of pictorial space, and the affective potential of the body. Rothenberg remained in New Mexico where she lived with her husband, the artist Bruce Nauman, until her passing.
Art critic Mike Brenson wrote of Rothenberg's work, “...Like all true poets, she shapes and sharpens the images ruthlessly in order to make paintings in which the surface is alive, the rhythms are controlled and image and space fit together. It is the formal toughness, the ability to look irrational forces in the eye, and shape and sharpen them so that they can expose themselves for what they are, that gives the work its bone-deep power.” (Mike Benson, GALLERY VIEW; In This Painter's World Everything Is Several Things, New York Times, May 6th 1990)
Susan Rothernberg was a Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden artist Honoree (2017) and was awarded with the Rolf Schock Prize in 2003, the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1998, the Cornell University Alumni Award (1998), and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in 1979. Throughout her career Rothenberg's work has been the subject of numerous international solo museum exhibitions including presentations at, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (US), The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (US), The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL), Kunsthalle, Basel (CH), The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (US), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Monterrey (MX), The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (US), The Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek (DK), The Tate Gallery, London (UK), National Museum of Art, Osaka (JP), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C, (US), among many others.
May 20, 2020