“Susan Rothenberg: Paintings & Drawings,” at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington,
February 10—May 9, 1993
What happens when, over time, the critical apparatus attached to a living artist’s work falls away, leaving his audience to confront the work plain? The question first occurred to me some fifteen years ago, at the Kenneth Noland retrospective at the “old” Guggenheim Museum. At that exhibition, I looked at Noland’s paintings and, with the cadences of formalist criticism beating less urgently in my ears, they appeared thin and bloodless, far less substantial than I had previously thought.
Something similar happened to me at the current Susan Rothenberg retrospective. This show, comprising more than forty paintings and some thirty drawings, confirmed my uneasy suspicion that Rothenberg, too, is not the artist I had...