“In the paintings where it’s there—the tenderness—I work for it. I’m not afraid of it. If I could put my bleeding fucking heart in there, I would.” —Susan Rothenberg

In an episode from the ART21 Exclusive series filmed at her home and studio in New Mexico, artist Susan Rothenberg explains how she transforms personal experiences and feelings into works that can become an “emotional moment” for the viewer.

WATCH: Susan Rothenberg: Emotions

IMAGES: Susan Rothenberg in her studio, New Mexico, 2004. Production stills from the ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 3 episode, Memory. © ART21, Inc. 2005.
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Susan Rothenberg
Axes, 1976
Synthetic polymer paint, gesso, charcoal and pencil on canvas 

“By the middle of the ‘70s,” Rothenberg has said, “I sensed that people were tired of Minimal and Conceptual art. It made sense to paint an image of something you could recognize and feel something about.” Having found herself doodling a horse on a bit of canvas in 1973, Rothenberg shortly began a series of full-scale paintings of horses. These works anticipated the powerful return of figurative and subjective content in American and European art of the late 1970s and 1980s. (via MoMA | The Collection | Susan Rothenberg. Axes. 1976)

Susan Rothenberg, Triphammer Bridge, synthetic polymer paint and tempera on canvas, 1974

The horse was just a quiet image. I was able to stick to the philosophy of the day—keeping the painting flat and anti-illusionist—but I also got to use this big, soft, heavy, strong, powerful form

-Susan Rothenberg on her reoccurring use of the horse