Charcoal, tempera, and pastel
Dimensions: Image: 20 x 24 3/4 inches (50.8 x 62.9 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Jennifer, Gale, and Ira Drukier
After graduating from Cornell in 1967, Susan Rothenberg explored various artistic avenues before arriving in New York in 1969. Her earliest series of “drawings” were conceptual in nature and involved such disparate materials as wire and screen and plastic sheets, either stapled or nailed to the wall.
Eventually Rothenberg went back to canvas and paper as her primary matrices, and forms became recognizable. In 1973 she began the series of horses, first from a doodle, then to full-scale work. The image of the horse was very personal, reflecting the artist’s own psyche, an examination of her fears and dreams. The intimacy is particularly apparent in the drawings, reflecting the artist’s raw, spontaneous intent.
The earliest horse pieces are compelling in their simplicity: the horse or horses generally stand or run, and their lack of grace and sheer bulk lend an overwhelming presence to the work. As Rothenberg further explored her theme, she began to include other forms with the horses, emphasizing the inherent flatness of the surface as in this work. The horse is drawn and redrawn, darkly embedded in the paper, and seems to be simultaneously standing within the u-bar and held in place by it. The chaotic handling of the charcoal accelerates the immediacy of the image and presages her handling of the motion figures a decade later. It is a work that speaks of the artist’s process, the charcoal rapidly smudged and re-worked, contrasted with the soft pale green of the paper, an image of mysterious dichotomies. ("FIGURE/STUDY: Drawings from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," text by Nancy E. Green and presented at Carlton Hobbs, LLC January 25-February 2, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.