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Dorothea Rockburne Biography

Dorothea Rockburne is an American artist whose works merge aspects of geometry, nature, and Egyptology. Employing a range of media, Rockburne arranges her materials using a logic based in both mathematics and symbology. “Even though it has an intellectual basis and mathematical structure, my work comes from a deep emotional source within me,” she explained. Born on October 18, 1932 in Montreal, Canada, she trained as a painter before attending Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the early 1950s. While at the college, Rockburne studied under Merce Cunningham, the mathematician Max Dehn, and John Cage. Relocating to New York, she worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art cataloging the Egyptian Antiquities collection, and as Robert Rauschenberg’s studio manager. By the 1970s, Rockburne was producing works which addressed the physical properties of an artistic medium. This culminated in her project Drawing Which Makes Itself (1972–1973), in where she tested the boundaries of what elements compose a drawing. The artist continues to live and work in New York, NY. Today, her works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others.

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