News — 29 May 2020

The American artist Susan Rothenberg died recently, at the age of 75 (Buffalo (New York), 29 January 1945 – Galisteo (New Mexico), 18 May 2020).

Rothenberg is renowned as a pioneer of the new image painting. In an era dominated by abstraction, conceptual art and Minimalism, she painted animal and human iconography – enigmatic, monumental works that are imbued with personal associations and references to sorrow, war, the brutality of nature and human existence. The image of the horse was her first subject, later followed by the human figure, often fragmentary. Recent paintings feature ravens, who kept her company on the New Mexico ranch where she lived with her husband, Bruce Nauman.

Shortly after completing her studies, Susan Rothenberg collaborated with performance artists such as Joan Jonas. However, she became increasingly drawn towards painting, and in 1975, she had her first solo exhibition in a gallery in New York, with her early horse paintings. Her big break followed three years later, with the New Image Painting exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, followed by solos in major American museums. Rothenberg represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1980, and her work was also featured in the 2007 edition. In 1992 she participated in Documenta 9. The Stedelijk Museum recognized her talent early on, with a solo show in 1982 and accompanying publication. The Stedelijk also acquired several of her paintings and prints for its collection.

Susan Rothenberg last visited Amsterdam in 2017, when she had a solo exhibition with Gallery Grimm, where she presented large-scale paintings. It was during that time Koos Breukel made this portrait of her.

Susan Rothenberg. Photo: Koos Breukel
Susan Rothenberg. Photo: Koos Breukel