Born in Montreal, Canada (1932), Dorothea Rockburne attended Black Mountain College, Ashville, NC (1950-1954) where she studied with Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Cy Twombly, and Robert Rauschenberg among other contemporaries. While at Black Mountain College, the teachings of renowned German mathematician Max Dehn, which often merged the mathematical and natural worlds, made an immense impact on Rockburne’s visual perceptions. After moving to New York in 1954, Rockburne became involved with Judson Dance Theater, participating in numerous performances and actions throughout the early 1960s. By the late 1960’s Rockburne began to synthesize her interests in art and math, likewise linking her experiments with body movement and perception work with varied natural and industrial materials that would define her practice for decades to come.
In the last decade, Rockburne has been the subject of three significant survey exhibitions, including the preeminent Dorothea Rockburne, Dia:Beacon, Beacon, NY (2018-ongoing); Dorothea Rockburne: Drawing Which Makes Itself, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2013-2014); and In My Mind’s Eye, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (2011). Additional solo museum exhibitions include A Gift of Knowing: The Art of Dorothea Rockburne, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine (2015); Dorothea Rockburne, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (1989); and Dorothea Rockburne: Locus, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1981), among others.
Significant group exhibitions include From Géricault to Rockburne: Selections from the Michael and Juliet Rubenstein Gift, Met Breuer, New York, NY and Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (both 2020); America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2015); Materializing ‘Six Years’: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, Brooklyn Museum, NY (2012); On Line: Drawing Through the 20th Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2010-11); The Women of Black Mountain College, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Ashville, NC (2008-9); High Times, Hard Times, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC (2006), traveled to National Academy Museum, New York, NY, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington D.C., Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico, Neue Galerie Graz, Austria, and ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2007-2008); A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1968, The Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA (2003); Primarily Structural, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (1999); Abstraction, Geometry, Painting, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (1989); Language, Drama, Source and Vision, New Museum, New York, NY (1983); 39th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (1980); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1979, 1977, 1973); Eight Contemporary Artists, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1974); and Documenta 5 and 6 (1972 and1977), Kassel, Germany, among others.
Rockburne’s work is represented in prominent private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Auckland City Art Museum, Auckland, New Zealand, Ludwig Museum, Aachen, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, among many others.
Rockburne lives and works in New York City.