Dorothea Rockburne

  • Dorothea Rockburne

    WHEN I CAME TO NEW YORK, I was a single mom and I had no money. I was trying to be a painter but didn’t know what to paint. I did homework with my daughter, cooked food and cleaned the house, and went to a job. Robert Rauschenberg and I became close friends at Black Mountain College. He hired me to be his studio manager. To keep sane, I did math at night, though I didn’t know why. I had all of these abilities, but I didn’t know how to move forward—and I certainly didn’t want to stay in one place. Eventually, I took some classes at the American Ballet Theatre, but they bored me because you

  • Dorothea Rockburne

    AGNES MARTIN WAS A VISIONARY. In the late 1950s, after moving to New York, I saw some of her paintings at Section Eleven, an annex of Betty Parsons Gallery. These works struck me, though they were not quite resolved, as representations of a demanding and compelling inner life. I remember rectangular canvases, no grid, with white shapes rendered in a thin wash overlapping hauntingly pale yellowish forms. These early efforts evoked the Eastern quietude I’d seen in the work of Kenzo Okada, and they have rarely been shown since.

    By the late ’60s I was regularly seeking out Agnes’s work; perhaps I

  • Dorothea Rockburne

    IN 1994 THE GAGOSIAN GALLERY, now located in Chelsea, was located on Wooster Street in SoHo. Its dimensions were sixteen by thirty-three by sixty-two feet. On my lunch hour I walked over to see Cy Twombly’s most recent exhibition. When I walked into the gallery, strikingly, there was only one painting, which covered the entire south wall. It was impossible to view the work—Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor—from very far back. In fact, the gallery had moved a wall to separate the street entrance from the exhibition, making the viewing space narrower than it normally