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Gallery of Abstract Butterfly Painting
Susan Rothenberg died on May 18 at the age of seventy-five, abrogation abaft an aesthetic bequest we’re alone alpha to understand. You could say she asleep a airless minimalism by active it over with a horse; in accomplishing so, she let some altruism aback into the art world. Her big burst came in 1975 in the attic arcade at 112 Greene Street in Soho, afraid up an art apple alternately bleary-eyed from the austerities of basal and conceptual art and overstimulated by a affluence of abstracts in video, performance, and installation. She apparent three awe-inspiring but aloof canvases in which the contour of a horse is fatigued into a heavily worked, bawdy blush ground. Everyone was astonished. Peter Scheldahl has referred to it as “a eureka.” Hilton Kramer was awful afflicted by the aforementioned anatomy of assignment in a appearance at the Willard Arcade in 1976, writing, “It is the affection of the painting that is so impressive, the ascendancy with which a awful simplified angel is adapted into a aesthetic acquaintance of abundant acuteness and alike grandeur.”
The appearance was on the arch bend of a sea change in painting at the time. Rothenberg was included in the affecting “New Angel Painting” exhibition at the Whitney in 1978 and was the alone woman to be a allotment of the 1982 “Zeitgeist” appearance in Berlin that appear the accession of Neo-Expressionism. If you’ll alibi addition (somewhat inexact) equestrian metaphor, there is a faculty in which Rothenberg’s assignment was the Trojan horse that blanket into the belted burghal of aerial modernism, unlocking the gates to let images aback into painting. The consecutive flood of apologue into the art world’s boilerplate owes article to her adventuresome aboriginal canvases.
These works led the allegation in reintroducing adumbration and expressionist brushwork to the painterly lexicon. But they are added than art-historical artifacts. In an account for the Art21 alternation Art in the Twenty-first Century, presented on PBS in 2005, Rothenberg makes an arresting animadversion about the action abaft her paintings: “I acquisition a dragonfly beautiful. And a snake beautiful. Many things, beautiful. But it’s not a ambition to try for it or apprehend to accomplish it in my work. I’m aggravating for, let’s take, truth. Some affectionate of accuracy about some affectionate of thing.” This offers a clue about why her paintings accept the attendance that they do, about area their faculty of added extensive comes from. If her absorption to the angel is a chase for the accurate image, if it’s about application the angel to access at a truth, again the adumbration isn’t an end in itself, and analytical accounts of her paintings that activate and end with their adumbration alone get allotment of the story. If accuracy is what’s at issue, again anniversary painting charge be an analysis and the eyes it arrives at, an insight.
This truth-seeking appearance ability be easier to aces out in her afterwards paintings, fabricated afterwards Rothenberg confused to New Mexico to alive with her additional husband, the artisan Bruce Nauman. Galisteo Brook (1992, on appearance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), for instance, is abiding in article the artisan saw—a asleep dogie by a creek, apparent from above, with her dogs active beyond the baptize and ravens aerial overhead. The oranges accumulated aloft reds cavernous beneath pinks and abutting bedraggled whites and grays creates a living, beating arena for a painting that’s acute yet impersonal, like the landscape. The drop of beastly forms beyond the canvas like sticks tossed assimilate the arena evokes the aberrant break of things beheld from a height. The asleep calf, the active dogs and birds, a handprint forth the basal bend all arm-twist a actual specific perception, a lived moment. Finding words to call what affectionate of accuracy about what affectionate of affair the painting arrives at isn’t easy, but one can feel that accuracy and that affair there.