Susan Rothenberg

For the Light

Not on view



Acrylic and vinyl paint on canvas

Overall: 105 1/8 × 87 1/16in. (267 × 221.1 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Peggy and Richard Danziger

Rights and reproductions
© Susan Rothenberg/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


In this work, Susan Rothenberg depicts a larger-than-life horse frontally, so that it appears to be galloping into the viewer’s space. Here, as in all of her images, forms are not detailed but suggested by heavy, expressive contours. For the Light features a spatially—and psychologically—troubling device in the shape of a long white bone that descends from the horse’s forehead. “That strange bone image came out as a doodle,” Rothenberg explained. “After I got over its strangeness, I found I could use it formally.” But the bone also represented a kind of introspection. “It was like digging deep in myself and pulling something out,” Rothenberg stated. “I ended up with this bone.” Likewise, despite her insistence that her attraction to the horse as subject is primarily formal, she is not unaware of its manifold mythical, literary, and expressive associations. The emotional excavation this painting involved, and its advancing, two-legged, vaguely anthropomorphic animal, heralded Rothenberg’s subsequent turn to the human figure.