Artist: Susan Rothenberg
Dimension: 159 x 122 cm
Technique: Oil on Canvas
About the Artist
Semi-figurative, expressionist painter and printmaker Susan Rothenberg was born in Buffalo, New York in 1945. She studied at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, receiving her B.F.A. degree in 1966. She also studied at the Corcoran School of Art and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
But her biggest apparent break, at least early in her career, was her employment as an assistant to the older, then better known artist, Nancy Graves in 1970, who is credited with easing Rothenberg’s way into the art world.
Rothenberg’s horse paintings began to appear around 1973, evolving, in the 1980s, into the human figure and were lauded by the critics of the day as a “return” to figurative painting, or a “new figuration.”
Rothenberg moved to New Mexico in 1990, after living and working in New York City, with subject matter reflecting her new environment in terms of dogs killing a rabbit, and horseback riding accidents, though her style and expressionist attitude continue to reflect abstract painting traits existing for nearly one hundred years.
The artist’s admiration of Abstract-Expressionists like Philip Guston, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning and Clyfford Still is evident in her work.
Rothenberg received a Creative Artists Public Service grant in 1976-1977 from New York State, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980. Some exhibition venues include the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1979; Mayor Gallery, London, 1979; Willard Gallery, New York City (four shows during 1970s, early 80s); Venice Biennale, 1980; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1982; Los Angeles County Art Museum, 1987; The Philips Collection Washington, DC, 1985-1986; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1993; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Mexico, 1996-1997; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, 1998-1999; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1999-2000.
Lives and works New Mexico
Text taken from “Ro Gallery” website.
What does this work say (to me)?
Birds have been a constant subject in art for centuries.
Either for their beauty, ability to fly, unique point of view, menacing gaze or association with all sort of myths, legends, stories and deities they awake in us all sort of interpretations and associations.
When I saw this painting I felt immediately caught but the intensity of the raven’s presence, its color, the composition, the contortion of its body and the extreme close up.
But there was something else.
On one side it was the unusual color which gave to the bird a sort of magic, mythological meaning, reminding me of the phoenix, a thought just to be replaced seconds later looking at its head by the memory of the Bosco’s extraordinary figures full of suffering and anguish.
On the other hand it was what seems to be the capturing of the exact moment when the bird was surprised or threaten by something or somebody we do not see; even the composition leads towards this possibility as the figure is pushed towards the right hand side of the pictorial space.
The raven looks scared, its plumage in a state of alert and discomfort. Or is it attacking?
It is probably the fact that I always like expressionism that made me stop and recognize on this painting the power of emotions that it conveys, the intensity of them are as loud as the cry of a raven.
The softness and prettiness of the color is being contradicted by the aggression shown on the painting.
Yes, it is possible that in the portraying of those opposites that the magic of this painting talked to me.
In what Room to place it?
Oh this would be a painting I would place in the living room or hallway just to play with its duality.
I would like to see how the people would react to it and hopefully hear from some of them, those that are recurrent visitors, how the painting move from being beautiful to be up to certain point disturbing in its contained energy of aggression and suspense.
A show piece
There are few pieces I would not frame, this is one of them.