Susan Rothenberg. Dogs Killing Rabbit. 1991-92

Oil on canvas, 7' 3" x 11' 9" (221 x 358.1 cm). Gift of UBS. © 2024 Susan Rothenberg/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Glenn Lowry: Susan Rothenberg is an artist whose work had typically avoided autobiographical subjects. But curator Ann Temkin says, that has changed over the last 15 years.

Ann Temkin: This picture was painted soon after she moved to New Mexico from New York City—couldn't be a more drastic change. And she said she got used to the different environment at the beginning by painting scenes of the life going on around her. And this was a very ordinary kind of day when she was out for a walk with her husband. You see their two faces in the upper right corner of the painting. And they noticed that her dogs—and you see here the dogs looked at from a bird's eye point of view, as if we were up in an airplane looking down at them—tearing apart this poor little helpless rabbit.

The two horses that you see at the top—you see two pairs of the front legs of a couple of horses—would have been nearby. You see the dogs from a bird's eye perspective. And the heads are just these little cartoon heads. So she is not doing any kind of really representational rendering of what it was she saw. But it was an anecdote that provided the jumping off point, and part of her life in New Mexico, realizing that all of a sudden, horses and dogs and rabbits are going to form the population of her pictures.