(Canadian, b.1932) is a painter and a draughtswoman, as well as a mixed media and installation artist. Born in Montréal, Quebec, Rockburne began classic training in Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture in 1942 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France, where she studied under the Abstract artist Paul Emile Borduas
(Canadian, 1905–1960). After winning a scholarship, Rockburne studied at the Montréal Museum School, where she began to distance her artistic style from the classical manner she had been studying since a young age. Moses Martin Reinblatt
(Canadian, 1917–1979), one of Rockburne’s teachers at the museum school, convinced her to apply to Black Mountain College in Asheville, NC, which was known for being the radical art school of the time. Rockburne attended Black Mountain College from 1950–1955, studying a variety of subjects including Painting, Music, Dance, Math, Theater, Linguistics, Philosophy, Literature, Writing, Poetry, and Photography. Rockburne moved to New York, NY after she graduated. Although she won the Walter Gutman Emerging Artist Award in 1957, Rockburne struggled with her art, and so she turned to dance and performance art for several years. During this time she took on some side jobs to support herself, including a bookkeeping job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, where she catalogued the Egyptian Antiquities collection. Rockburne took a great interest in the art of ancient Egypt from a young age, and she later incorporated this interest into her works entitled Egyptian Paintings
In 1963, Rockburne began assisting her friend and former schoolmate Robert Rauschenberg
(American, 1925–2008). For the next five years Rockburne worked in Rauschenberg’s studio; she participated in various performances with other artists, including Claes Oldenberg (b.1929) in a work entitled Washes
(1965) at Al Roon’s Heath Club in New York City. A year later, Rockburne was working in her own studio again. She incorporated mathematics into her art, inspired by dance and how the body moves through space. Rockburne produced her Set Theory installations, which were first shown in 1970 at the Bykert Gallery, NY, with this new inspiration. In 1972, Rockburne received a Guggenheim Fellowship and traveled to Italy, where she continued her studies in Italian Art, and began to merge her classical training into her work. In the early 1990s, Rockburne began to study Astronomy and frescoes, combining these interests to create a major fresco secco for SONY headquarters in New York City entitled Northern Sky, Southern Sky
(1992–1993). In 2001, Rockburne participated in the comprehensive exhibition The Universe: Contemporary Art and the Cosmos
, combining her knowledge and skill in Art, Music, Science, and Astronomy. She has received many awards and honors during her successful career including the National Endowment for the Arts grant (1974), the Witowsky Prize for Painting (1976), participation at the 1980 Venice Biennale, and a membership in the Department of Art at the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001). Rockburne currently lives and works in New York.