Dorothea Rockburne

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Dorothea Rockburne
BornOctober 18, 1932
EducationBlack Mountain College
Known forMathematics, Astronomy, Abstract Art, Mannerism

Dorothea Rockburne (born c. 1932) is an abstract painter, drawing inspiration primarily from her deep interest in mathematics and astronomy. Her work is geometric and abstract, seemingly simple but very precise to reflect the mathematical concepts she strives to concretize. "I wanted very much to see the equations I was studying, so I started making them in my studio," she has said. "I was visually solving equations."[1] Rockburne's attraction to Mannerism has also influenced her work.[2]

In 1950 she moved to the United States to attend Black Mountain College,[3] where she studied with mathematician Max Dehn, a lifelong influence on her work. In addition to Dehn, she studied with Franz Kline, Philip Guston, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. She also met fellow student Robert Rauschenberg. In 1955, Rockburne moved to New York City where she met many of the leading artists and poets of the time. She was influenced by the minimalist dances of Yvonne Rainer and the Judson Dance Theater.[4]

Throughout her career, she created paintings that expressed mathematical concepts.[1] In 1958, a solo show of her work was critically and financially successful but deemed "not good enough" by Rockburne herself.[1] She did not publicly show her work again for more than a decade, turning her attention to dance and performance art by 1960.[5] Rockburne participated in performances at the Judson Dance Theater and took classes at the American Ballet Theater.[5] During that time she supported her daughter, Christine, by working as a waitress and a studio manager for her friend Robert Rauschenberg.[1] Bykert Gallery, in New York, which also represented Chuck Close and Brice Marden, began showing her work in 1970.[1] Rockburne’s series of installations, Set Theories, included works such as Intersection, which attempted to merge two of her other pieces of art (Group and Disjunction) to illustrate the mathematical concept of intersection.[6] The series later led to her experimentation with new concepts and materials, such as Gold Section and carbon paper.[5] In 2011, a retrospective exhibition of her work was shown at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y., and in 2013, the Museum of Modern Art hosted a solo show of her drawings.

Rockburne is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Academy of Design, and The Century Association. In 2016, Rockburne was the recipient of an honorary degree from Bowdoin College.

Awards and honors[edit]


Select solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2014 Van Doren Waxter, New York, NY
  • 2013 Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY[8]
  • 2013 Jill Newhouse Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013 Icehouse Studio, Queens, New York, NY
  • 2012 Craig F. Star Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2012 Art Dealer's Association of America, The Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY
  • 2011 Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
  • 2011 The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY
  • 2010 New York Studio School,[9] New York, NY
  • 2003 Dieu Donné Papermill, New York, NY
  • 2003 Jan Abrams Fine Art, New York, NY
  • 2000 Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City, NY
  • 1999 Art in General, New York City, NY
  • 1997 Ingrid Raab Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • 1996 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
  • 1995 Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY
  • 1994 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1992 Galleria Schema, Florence, Italy
  • 1991 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1989 The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA
  • 1988 Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1987 Recent Paintings and Drawings - Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 1985 Xavier Fourcade, New York, NY
  • 1983 Galleriet Lund, Lund, Sweden
  • 1982 Recent Watercolors and Drawings - Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1981 Locus - MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY [10]
  • 1981 David Bellman Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • 1979 Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
  • 1977 Galleria La Polena, Genova, Italy
  • 1976 John Weber Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1975 Galleria Schema, Florence, Italy
  • 1975 Galerie Charles Kriwin, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1974 Galleria Toselli, Milan, Italy
  • 1973 Lisson Gallery, London, England
  • 1972 Galleria Bonomo Bari, Bari, Italy
  • 1972 Galleria Toselli, Milan, Italy
  • 1971 Sonnabend Gallery, Paris, France
  • 1970 Bykert Gallery, New York, NY

Select group exhibitions[edit]

  • 2014 Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2014 Gagosian Gallery, Paris, France
  • 2014 The Drawing Room, London, England
  • 2013 Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
  • 2013 Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME
  • 2013 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • 2012 The Century Association, New York, NY
  • 2012 Christie's 20th Floor Private Sale Galleries, New York, NY
  • 2012 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2011 The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 2011 Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2010 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 2009 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
  • 2009 National Academy Museum, New York, NY
  • 2008 Austin Museum of Art (AMOA), Austin, TX
  • 2008 Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal
  • 2007 Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2007 ARCO (Arte Contemporaneo), Madrid, Spain
  • 2006 National Academy of Design, New York, NY
  • 2004 Greenberg Van Doren Gallery
  • 2003 Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • 2002 Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid, Spain
  • 2001 Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
  • 2000 Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
  • 1999 Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX
  • 1995 The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT
  • 1994 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  • 1993 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1992 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
  • 1991 Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporanea, Mexico D.F., Mexico
  • 1989 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1988 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
  • 1988 The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • 1987 Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
  • 1987 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
  • 1986 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1983 Galleriet, Lund, Sweden
  • 1983 New Museum, New York, NY
  • 1982 British Museum, London, England
  • 1982 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1981 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1980 Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
  • 1979 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1979 Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
  • 1977 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
  • 1977 Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1977 National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • 1976 Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
  • 1975 Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • 1974 Institute of Contemporary Art, London, England
  • 1973 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • 1973 San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
  • 1973 Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA
  • 1972 Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany
  • 1971 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  • 1970 Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
  • 1952 Black Mountain College Gallery, Black Mountain, NC

List of works[edit]

Scalar. 1971. Chipboard, crude oil, paper and nails. Museum of Modern Art, New York. [1]

Locus. 1972. Series of six relief etching and aquatints on folded paper. Museum of Modern Art, New York. [2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Works in Progress". The New York Times. 2015-05-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  2. ^ Bui, Phong (October 2007). "Isabelle Dervaux and Dorothea Rockburne with Phong Bui". The Brooklyn Rail.
  3. ^ "Error 404 page". Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.
  4. ^ Chadwick, Whitney (2002). Women, Art, and Society. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 345. ISBN 0-500-20354-7.
  5. ^ a b c Swartz, Anna K. (16 February 2015). "Rockburne, Dorothea". Groove Art Online.
  6. ^ Lovatt, Anna. "Dorothea Rockburne: Intersection". MIT Press Journals. October 2007 (122): 31–52.
  7. ^ "Bowdoin's 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients | Bowdoin News". Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  8. ^ Karen Rosenberg, "Mathematical Ratios, Papered, Folded and Cut" (review of exhibition), The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2013.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-08. Retrieved 2014-03-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ ArtFacts. "Dorothea Rockburne - Artist". ArtFacts.

External links[edit]