“The ‘Locus’ prints take vision as their subject matter … [but] in fact they are not of or about vision – they are ‘for’ vision. They invite the gaze, focusing it and making it self-conscious… They challenge the viewer with a richness of detail that can only be seen.”
The process for Dorothea Rockburne’s “Locus” works consisted of printing grey ink in the form of an “X” onto flat sheets of paper. Rockburne then folded the paper with the “X” being the locus for the folds. She then took these folded-up pieces of paper and printed upon/into them with white ink by running them through an etching press. Once dried and unfolded, each sheet displays the “X” along with visible, yet subtle contrasts between the velvety off-white ink (printed from an aquatinted plate) and the unprinted areas of the white paper. In addition, when the paper had been folded and run through the press, its edges and folds created debossed and embossed lines. These lines become quite significant, formally, once the paper is unfolded and further emphasize the angular planes. Altogether, the works are etching, drawing, sculpture, collage, and installation all at once.
“I was involved in an interaction between the paper, the ink, the plate, the bed, and the roller and how the weight of the bed and the weight of the roller caused the ink and the paper to interact with each other against a plate… Because the paper went through the press folded, there are three different inking surfaces: one which is fully inked, one which is medium inked, one which is hardly inked…. etching is tactile, obstinate, and challenging.”
Dorothea Rockburne (b. 1932, Montréal, Canada) has been the subject of three significant survey exhibitions in the last decade, including Dorothea Rockburne, Dia:Beacon, Beacon, NY (2018-ongoing, where the Locus series is currently on view in its entirety); Dorothea Rockburne: Drawing Which Makes Itself, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2013-2014); and In My Mind’s Eye, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (2011). Additional solo museum exhibitions include A Gift of Knowing: The Art of Dorothea Rockburne, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine (2015); Dorothea Rockburne, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (1989); and Dorothea Rockburne: Locus, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1981), among others.
Rockburne’s work is represented in prominent private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; and the Auckland City Art Museum, Auckland, New Zealand, among many others.