I’ve been intrigued by Dorothea Rockburne’s wall drawing Neighbourhood (1973) since I began working at MoMA. It was acquired by the Museum in 1978, just five years after it was first made, but has been on view infrequently since then, and I really wanted to see it in person. Images of a ghostly sheet of folded paper hovering above an intricate map of lines of varying weight and color suggested a work that completely engaged with the body and the space around it—a drawing that completely challenged everything we expect a drawing to be. Currently on view in the Museum’s Drawings Galleries, Neighbourhood does not disappoint—it’s a seemingly simple but incredibly powerful, beautiful work. Contextualized by Rockburne’s carbon-paper wall drawings, the series that culminated in Neighbourhood and which hasn’t been exhibited in depth in four decades, and other works from the MoMA’s collection as well as the artist’s own holdings, it speaks to Rockburne’s continued engagement with higher mathematics, her masterful control of a range of materials, and an admirable clarity of vision.
Above, Rockburne discusses the range of works included in the current exhibition Dorothea Rockburne: Drawing Which Makes Itself, on view in MoMA’s third-floor Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries through January 20, 2014.