Susan Rothenberg: In Her Own Words

The Phillips Collection mourns the loss of trailblazing painter Susan Rothenberg (1945-2020). Rothenberg recently reflected on two of her works that are part of The Phillips Collection.

Susan Rothenberg, Dominos-Cold, 2001, Oil on canvas, 86 1/2 x 72 1/2 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Alice Swistel, 2019

“The painting Dominos-Cold is an expression of how I fell in love with green—a color I did not know well before I moved to New Mexico in 1990. I used cold and warm versions of green to represent the felt-covered game table, the site of our favorite board game. I like the fact that the hands aren’t anchored. They just float around the space of the painting. You really have to know that they are at a table. The hands are just these living things, moving around like the dogs or the horses.”

Susan Rothenberg, Three Masks, 2006, Oil on canvas, 59 3/16 x 66 1/8 in., The Phillips Collection, The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2007

“When I painted Three Masks in 2006, I was toying with the idea of paper bag masks like kids wear for Halloween.You know the old saying that everything an artist does is a self-portrait? I think it’s true. All of my work has a portrait element to it. But I still have a hard time allowing myself to make a complete human figure. So I guess it’s kind of a broken portraiture.”

We look forward to honoring Rothenberg next year in our forthcoming centennial exhibition and publication, Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collection for a New Century (2021). 

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