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A Gift of Knowing: The Art of Dorothea Rockburne

Image: Dorothea Rockburne, American, b. 1932. Geometry of Stardust: Curvature, 2009–2010. Lascaux Perlacryl and Aquacryl paint, Golden High Load Titanium white, and gold leaf on Strathmore watercolor paper. 24 3/4 x 20 in (62.9 x 50.8 cm). 

09/30/2016 to 02/19/2017
Organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Curated by Bowdoin College Museum of Art in conjunction with the studio of Dorothea Rockburne
Organized for The Fralin Museum of Art by Rebecca Schoenthal, Curator of Exhibitions

Canadian artist Dorothea Rockburne’s studies with mathematician Max Dehn at the legendary Black Mountain College in the early 1950s firmly grounded her artistic practices in astronomy, mathematics and topology. Rockburne relates mathematical theory to the planetary movements and light captured by deep space telescopes. Prime examples include her Geometry of Stardust series (2009–2010) and the colored pencil drawings from her Watermill Series (2013–2015), on public exhibition for only the second time.

Rockburne’s early work can be characterized as Minimalist and process-oriented. Influenced by mathematics—in particular, topology and geometry—as well as by sixteenth-century Mannerism, Rockburne is renowned for her paintings of interrelated shapes, as well as sketches, drawings, watercolors and folded paper constructions. Her works have been exhibited at MOMA and the Parrish Art Museum in New York, as well as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Rockburne lives and works in New York City.

The title of the exhibition stems from Rockburne’s essay about her friend Ad Reinhardt (1913–1967), in which she recalls his art’s impact upon her: “It is one’s hope, as an artist, to leave a gift of knowing, as Ad Reinhardt did for other artists, so that our visual language can be further explored and built upon.” This exhibition may well be such a gift.

The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

This exhibition was made possible by a generous gift from The Fralin Museum Volunteer Board. The lecture by Dorothea Rockburne and David Peifer is sponsored by an Arts Enhancement grant from the Office of the Provost and the Vice Provost for the Arts. We would also like to thank our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.