First Impressions of Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place
Posted by Andrea D. on October 20, 2009 - 12:29pm
Categories: On the Walls

Last week's Tuesday Evening at the Modern was my first to attend, and will definitely not be my last. I experienced so much in such a short amount of time: I was able to buy a catalogue of the upcoming exhibition Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place, (which the artist herself kindly signed), and tagged along on the Graduate Student Lecture tour, which featured UTA student Janet Morrow talking about the use of light in art works found in our permanent collection. Susan Rothenberg, Cabin Fever, 1976

By the time I finished listening to the main event of the evening - Susan Rothenberg's in-depth discussion with Michael Auping about her work and artistic process - I had already decided that I couldn't wait for her exhibition to open on Sunday. And I mean that literally: at the earliest opportunity, I was wandering the galleries a few days before Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place had been officially opened to the public.

I was initially struck by how large her paintings are. It's one thing to see photos of art work in a catalogue, but seeing them in-person creates a completely different experience. And the works are so spread out across the gallery: many have their own wall, and those that share a wall are displayed with a large amount of white space between them. This keeps each of the pieces very self-contained, which is definitely a good thing because the paintings themselves are full of a kinetic energy that would be lost if they had been crowded together. The white wall space gives each work some room to breathe.

Rothenberg's signature piece, Cabin Fever, is the first painting to greet you. It sets the stage for the rest of the exhibition, so that while the subject matter of the paintings may shift from horses to chase-scenes to dominoes, their organic tone and their sense of vibrancy, of barely being contained by the canvas, remain the same.

I was also pleased to note that more pieces from the permanent collection are back on display in the rooms adjacent to the exhibition galleries. Seeing Richard Prince's Untitled (Cowboys) #8 made me particularly happy…not only because it is one of my favorites, but also because it poses an interesting comparison to Rothenberg's own collection of horses, displayed a few steps away.

What were some of your first impressions of Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place?