Susan Rothenberg. Boneman. 1986

Susan Rothenberg Boneman 1986

  • Not on view

Susan Rothenberg emerged in the mid-1970s as an essential link between the abstract and Minimalist painting of the 1950s and 1960s and the new figuration and expressionism that would emerge in the next two decades. Her artistic abilities had always been encouraged and, at an early age, she took art classes at the local museum in Buffalo, New York. She later studied sculpture and painting at Cornell University. Moving to New York City in 1969, Rothenberg became part of SoHo's community of artists, and occasionally worked as a part-time performer in productions by artist Joan Jonas. In 1973 she began making paintings of a single horse, a form that would occupy her for the next several years and become an early hallmark of her work. Progressively, she began to disassemble the horse image, depicting only parts of its anatomy. She eventually shifted her focus to disembodied aspects of the human figure. With loosely depicted forms floating unanchored on dark grounds, her work continues to navigate between figuration and abstraction, and she remains a creator of mysterious and ambiguous images.

Rothenberg pursued similar concerns in printmaking, an activity she began in the late 1970s. Since that time, she has made approximately seventy prints, including lithographs, screenprints, woodcuts, and intaglios. She feels most comfortable working in a reductive way, erasing and scraping to create an image from a black ground. Mezzotint, the intaglio technique used in Boneman, is particularly suited to this method of working. Although she occasionally opts for color, her work is most often executed in a palette of black, white, and gray. In Boneman, a mysterious drumming figure seems to emerge from a dreamlike darkness. Color is provided only by her choice of a wood veneer paper on which she has printed this monochromatic image.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 228.
Mezzotint on wood veneer paper
composition and sheet: 30 x 20 1/8" (76.2 x 51.2 cm)
Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles
Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles
John B. Turner Fund
Object number
© 2021 Susan Rothenberg / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].