Susan Rothenberg, Butterfly, 1976
Susan Rothenberg, Butterfly, 1976

acrylic on canvas

overall: 176.5 x 210.8 cm (69 1/2 x 83 in.) framed: 180.3 x 223.5 x 7.6 cm (71 x 88 x 3 in.)

Susan Rothenberg's intuitive approach to painting led her one day in 1973 to spontaneously sketch the image of a horse--a subject that would preoccupy her until 1980. She later recalled, "I had been doing abstract paintings, using a central dividing line so as to keep the painting on the surface and call attention to the canvas. . . . The horse was just something that happened on both sides of my line. The image held the space and the line kept the picture flat."1

In Butterfly, Rothenberg laid the intersecting black diagonals and the silhouetted black horse against a burnt sienna ground. This composition at once blurs the distinction between the form-flattening diagonals and the horse's anatomy while creating tension between the static of the black bars and the implied motion of the horse. "The geometry," Rothenberg explained, "is a heavy black x whose crossing point inside the horse's black body disappears in black paint. The black point that forms the horse's body also forms the geometry, and there is some confusion between the legs and the bars. It is interesting that the black line disappears and then reemerges so that the x and the horse become one and the same.2 The title Butterfly alludes to the shape of the x.

Source

Pierre Marteau

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