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 Susan Rothenberg  (1945 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/New Mexico      Known for: mod figure fragments, sculptor

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Ad Code: 1
Susan Rothenberg
from Auction House Records.
2001 Susan Rothenberg / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
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.

From Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists"
Susan Rothenberg was born in Buffalo, New York on January 29, 1945, the daughter of a wealthy produce wholesaler. She started out studying sculpture at Cornell University, but she was told she had no talent and went off to a Greek island for five months. She next tried the Corcoran School of Art, but was not satisfied there. She went to New York where she lucked out as a studio assistant to Nancy Graves. In 1971 she married the sculptor George Trakas and had a daughter, Maggie in 1972. She and Trakas divorced in 1979. She is married now to Bruce Nauman.

Rothenberg's best work involves timeless, almost mythical figures and symbols; her best is also her simplest. She is an instinctive painter with an unerring touch. When broken down to their constituent parts, many of her works are bizarre. Her standard characters include horses, dogs, birds; her works are littered with severed limbs, skulls and dead animals.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Peter Plagens in Newsweek, February 22, 1993
Eleanor Heartney in Art News, October 1990
ARTnews magazine, February 1995
Who's Who in American Art, R.R. Bowker 1980

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Susan Rothenberg is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
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