Modernism was riddled by searches for origins, but it was also marked by near-fatal fixations with real or imagined ends. Pace Hegel, T. J. Clark has suggested that “every modernism has to have its own proximate Black Square.” But Susan Rothenberg would probably substitute Lascaux for Malevich, a nod to a beginning that was already terminal, marked by a conflicting admixture of prolepsis and hindsight that also finds form in the exhibition structure of the retrospective.
Still, “Susan Rothenberg: Drawings 1974–2004” aimed to chart the progress of the artist’s career through more than seventy radically heterogeneous, albeit chronologically installed, works. First came drawings of horses, then drawings of human heads and bodies, then movement studies, and finally more fragmented figures. Despite the unassuming size of many of Rothenberg’s early works, not to mention their seemingly equivalent
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