Jacob's Ladder I, bronze of 1957, in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
She grew up in Cleveland. In 1918, she took classes at the Pasadena Playhouse, and studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1922, she moved to New York City, and studied at the Art Students League.
She met fellow artist David Smith in 1926, and they were married from 1927 to 1952. They lived at Bolton Landing, New York, where she concentrated on drawing and painting from 1940 to 1950. The Smith's met Wilhelmina Weber Furlong and Thomas Furlong (artist) in New York City, and were introduced to the community of Bolton Landing by the avant gard couple.
She and Smith separated in 1950. She studied printmaking with Stanley Hayter at Atelier 17. She turned to sculpture in bronze and metal, eventually working with wood. In 1952, she had a solo exhibition at the Rose Fried Gallery. In 1955, she married Ferdinand Mann, a publisher. In 1957, she had a one-woman exhibition at the Willard Gallery New York City. In 1970-1971, she was a visiting artist at the Tamarind Institute.
The Dorothy Dehner Foundation manages her artistic estate.
- "Dorothy Dehner", Joan M. Marter, Woman's Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Autumn, 1980 - Winter, 1981), pp. 47–50
- Joan M. Marter, Dorothy Dehner: sixty years of art, Katonah Museum of Art, 1993, ISBN 978-0-915171-29-3
- Martha L. Nodine, Paterfamilias: the Cincinnati years (1820-1900): artist Dorothy Dehner's German-American legacy, Martha L. Nodine, 2004
- The Biography of Wilhelmina Weber Furlong: The Treasured Collection of Golden Heart Farm by Clint Bernard Weber, ISBN 0-9851601-0-1ISBN 978-0-9851601-0-4
- Magda Salvesen, Diane Cousineau (2005). Artists' Estates: Reputations in Trust. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3604-9.
- Magda Salvesen, Diane Cousineau (2005). Artists' estates: reputations in trust. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-3604-0.
- "Dorothy Dehner" From the Artcyclopedia. Accessed August 19, 2006.
- Interview with Dorothy Dehner (Oct 1965 & Dec 1966), Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
- Dorothy Dehner, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Dorothy Dehner papers at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
- Dorothy Dehner (American, 1901-1994)