Dorothea Rockburne. Golden Section Painting: Square Separated by Parallelogram. August 1974

Dorothea Rockburne Golden Section Painting: Square Separated by Parallelogram August 1974

  • Not on view

The Golden Section is a mathematical ratio also sometimes called the “divine proportion” owing to its presence in natural structures, from the spiral shape of a seashell to the human body. Many artists and architects have applied this principle over the centuries—it appears, for example, in both ancient Greek temples and Renaissance paintings—and Rockburne planned the Golden Section Paintings around it, while maintaining her interest in the physical manipulation of materials. To make these works, she coated large sheets of linen with white gesso on one side and clear varnish on the other, clearly demarcating front from back. They were then measured, cut, and folded along lines determined by the Golden Section. Rockburne would repurpose the structural configurations of this series for many subsequent bodies of work, including the Copal, Vellum Curve, and Angel series.

Gallery label from Dorothea Rockburne: Drawing Which Makes Itself, September 21, 2013–January 20, 2014.
Gesso and pencil on sized, glued, and folded linen
64 3/8" x 8' 8 1/2" (163.6 x 265.5 cm)
Purchased with the aid of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and an anonymous donor
Object number
© 2022 Dorothea Rockburne / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].