Susan Rothenberg: Emotions | Art21 “Extended Play”

By | October 7, 2019

Susan Rothenberg: Emotions I think I care about beauty, but I don’t go for it. I hope it sometimes might be in there. I think maybe more in terms of a beautiful moment than trying to figure out what beauty is. I hope that my paintings can be emotional moments for people. I just know that it takes a certain emotional lock in for me to commit to a painting. And a certain timidity at first, and then the second painting, and then I might go back to the first painting, And then force some more bravery on it, And say, “Oh, this is okay. You can handle this.” I have given myself full range of the painting. I don’t limit myself in anyway. I know I’m not a landscape painter. I know that. I know that’s sombody else’s job. And I don’t think I’m a still life painter. But I would like to think that I can paint portraits, which I have not successfully done. I’d like to think that the whole thing is wide open and that I don’t have to abide by any rules, anymore. But I was happy to when I was young, because it looked like a very radical world. And I really wanted to be part of it. We had to put that dog down, because she was in kidney failure. And I was holding her before the doctor did that, and I wanted to make a painting about it. How it felt, to remember her by. And I’ve had the arm… Everywhere you see this darker tone, I’ve had the arm there. [chuckles] I had it like this, like this, then I could not figure out where the feet should be, Then, I couldn’t figure out where the arm might be coming of the body. And finally, I decided to stop worrying about it. All I wanted was that dog held there, And my sneakers grounding the bottom of the painting. I just felt so sad, and so… I felt the loss of this dog quite a lot. So I just try to recover her for a moment in the painting. It’s completely personal. And I could see that the hand’s not painted well enough… That one is, that one isn’t. [WOMAN, OFF SCREEN] Which one? [ROTHENBERG] The left hand is just fine. It’s doing what it needs to do. This one is blobby. [laughs] It needs some wristbones, and some fingernails, and some definition. In the paintings where it’s there–the tenderness–I work for it. I’m not afraid of it. If I could put my bleeding fucking heart in there, I would. [chuckles] But as it is, it’s her and my arms and my shoes. You know, in the most all-embracing kind of send off that I could give her.

19 thoughts on “Susan Rothenberg: Emotions | Art21 “Extended Play”

  1. Andy Cook Post author

    I absolutely hate how she speaks about her work, you can see that she has such a large ego, and truly thinks her paintings are genius. But for me she is one of the worst living recognized painters. She is almost as bad as Julian Schnabel.

  2. lossennedlorwen Post author

    I don't see where people are getting "large ego" from. She is actively critiquing her own work, pointing out what she thinks is working & what isn't. And if she feels so strongly that she swears- which happens /once/, so people can stop being prudish about it- then she swears. And many people smoke, even though it's not the best decision. I may not be a huge fan of her work, no, but honestly, people, lay off the woman. You sound childish attacking her like this.

  3. Peasandoats Post author

    Most artists are pretty insecure about their works unless pompous a-holes. If someone points out that my art is a failure, I'm too vulnerable to defend myself, because I already know it is a failure.

  4. Cat McNichol Post author

    Susan Rothenberg is an absolute painting genius. She is a goddess in my world of art, and whether or not she smokes shouldn't influence whether you "like" her art or not. Goodness, grow the F* up, people. Reminds me of Marilyn Monroe's quote:
    "Nice women don't make history."

  5. JeffersonDinedAlone Post author

    She is, of course, a no-talent hack, and a useless fraud, however, besides that, why are so many so-called artists who are female so damn butt-ugly? Aren't there any extraordinarily attractive artists (so-called or otherwise) out there who are female?

  6. jack beggs Post author

    She lives, she breathes, and she owns her work. I don't see how one cannot call her an artist. She left everything to be with her work, which is more than most people can ever say. A true artist, and that's all.

  7. jack beggs Post author

    And, @JeffersonDinedAlone, you judging how "attractive" she is, and having no claims to backup your "no talent-hack" comment, are yourself quite an ugly piece of work.

  8. Walking Nerf Post author

    Great interview. Susan has some really nice statements in this.

  9. stillpaints Post author

    She should try to express the misery of her tobacco addiction.

  10. Bro. Chronicles Post author

    Just seems like a painter to me. She can paint what she wants. Everyone critiques there own work and have a right to. Just like everyone critiques their hair or how they look in an outfit. People are so stupid and try to place artist in a box, jus Shutup!

  11. BeginPanicAttack Post author

    if i could put my bleeding fucking heart in there i would

  12. Kaleigh Post author

    Love your honesty and style, super cool to be inspired by a beautiful and emotionally deep woman!

  13. Coffeehead Duck Post author

    I can't exactly remember, but I think she's married to Bruce Nauman.


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