Details
SUSAN ROTHENBERG (1945-2020)
Untitled
etching with aquatint and drypoint, on Somerset Satin paper, 1983, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 22/35 (there were also five artist's proofs), published by Mountain Shadow Studio, Highland, New York, with their blindstamp
Image: 2558 x 2134 in. (651 x 553 mm.)
Sheet: 3378 x 3014 in. (860 x 768 mm.)
Literature
Maxwell 14
Exhibited
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College Museum of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, 5 May-14 October 1984, no. 195, p. 157; pl. XLVI, p. 124 (illustrated)
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Lot Essay

Beginning with her “horse” and “bone” paintings of the 1970s, Susan Rothenberg developed an imagery that makes reference to the real but appears to have more to do with metaphor and dream. Ambiguity Is rife: a form once identified is likely to suggest another form or identity.
Accompanying the evolution of Rothenberg's imagery was a dialogue concerning the nature of the pictorial space of her roughly brushed canvases. Are the figures embedded in the surface or do they project from it? Is the space flat, shallow, or suggestive of depth and atmosphere? In some of her works of the 1980s, all of the above possibilities appear simultaneously viable for figures and spaces. Relationships are shifting and ambivalent.
In this untitled aquatint the almond-shaped sailboat seen from above and its double or reflection may not immediately suggest to every viewer's eye the curving hull of a boat: they may also be read these as vaginal forms. The “water’’ is a profoundly dark void conjured up by the velvety grained aquatint surface. It is worth noting that in the execution of the print most of the forms have been defined both by negative white shapes scraped out of the dark aquatint field as well as by positive etched and drypoint lines, encouraging a double reading of all the forms.
The ‘boat’ is ringed about by a ghostly circle that becomes at the top a skull-like head and a rigid arm that appears to bar the way. The spectral circle is itself ambivalent: does it lie on the surface like the reflection of the moon’s circle or is it the rim of a deep whirlpool that threatens to engulf the boat?
Clifford S. Ackley, The Modern Art of the Print, p. 124

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