Urgent Museum Notice


Close up of Sheba

Six folded white triangles resembling origami form a large geometric shape on a white background. Connected by a continuous line that bisects their center, the corners of each triangle touch and encourage the eye to move in a circular fashion.

Dorothea Rockburne, Sheba, 1980; Gesso, oil, conte crayon, glue on linen, 74 x 59 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © Dorothea Rockburne

Dorothea Rockburne

Sheba is one of Dorothea Rockburne’s “Egyptian paintings,” a series of works evoking low reliefs through the interplay of light, shadow, surface, and plane.

As in most of the artist’s work, the title is simply a point of reference. Rather than a literal depiction of the historical Queen of Sheba, this work emphasizes the visual balance of related geometric forms and the subtle juxtaposition of different shades of white.

Austere and elegant, planned and executed with mathematical precision, Sheba also seems sensuous and mysterious because of its cast shadows, layered folds, and the drawn line that ties together the composition. Although she has frequently been termed a Minimalist, Rockburne rejects this label. She points out that unlike non-referential Minimalist art, her work derives from art history, philosophy, mathematics, and kinetic and emotional experiences.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Dorothea Rockburne
  • Title

  • Date

  • Medium

    Conte crayon, Gesso, Glue on linen, Oil
  • Dimensions

    74 x 59 1/2 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2002 Dorothea Rockburne/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Photo Credit

    © Dorothea Rockburne
  • On Display