in Collaborations , Videos | 01 OCT 21

‘Some People Just See the Horse and Some People See Susan Rothenberg’

With a new show at Gray, curator and friend Michael Auping remembers the late artist's ability to walk the thin line between abstract painting and figuration

in Collaborations , Videos | 01 OCT 21
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When Susan Rothenberg began painting in the 1970s, New York’s art world was mainly focused on minimalism and pop art. ‘Something was needed to react to that,’ says curator Michael Auping, a friend of the late artist, in this video, ‘and what that thing was, was three large paintings […] and they were horses.’ A visit to Rothenberg’s studio revealed works that were strikingly different from anything Auping had seen, leading to the artist’s first museum show at the University Art Museum, Berkeley and a lifelong friendship and collaboration.

The exhibition demonstrated Rothenberg’s brilliance in walking ‘this thin line between abstract painting and figuration’, says Auping. Rothenberg’s horses used the vocabulary of a previous generation: that of flatness and surface. This was expressed by a line that runs through each canvas, encouraging viewers to look at the works bi-focally. According to Auping, ‘some people just see the horse and some people see Susan Rothenberg.’

At a pivotal moment for the feminist movement, Rothenberg created innovative, iconic paintings. For Auping, the works clearly underlined ‘that something new was happening’.

Susan Rothenberg: On Both Sides of My Line is on view at Gray, Chicago from 10 September to 9 October, 2021 and at Gray, New York from 29 October to 10 December, 2021.