The paintings that compose Rothenberg's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 were originally created for the six pillars of PaineWebber Group's thirty–eighth-floor corporate dining room in New York. Rothenberg chose these animated figures because she felt they would add a sense of spirited action to this meeting space and because she liked the juxtaposition of their weightless, floating forms with the expansive sky visible through the room's windows. The activity implicit in these off–balance, energetic bodies was a departure in Rothenberg's work at the time. "After years of trying to make things static, I was involved in making them move," she has said.
Rothenberg has a deep interest in dance; in the 1970s she worked with the performance artist and dancer Joan Jonas. While the six kinetic bodies of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 were not intended to form a specific narrative, they are sequentially related. Rothenberg placed them in order according to what she has called the motions of a "possible dancing movement": "One leans out, one leans in, one flies up, one presses down, one stands, one relaxes."
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 66.