Dorothy Iannone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dorothy Iannone
Known forPainter

Dorothy Iannone (born 1933) is an American visual artist.[1] Her autobiographical texts, films, and paintings explicitly depict female sexuality and "ecstatic unity."[2] She lives and works in Berlin, Germany.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Iannone was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1933.[1] Her father died when she was two years old and she was raised by her mother Sarah Nicoletti Iannone, later Sarah Pucci.[3] She graduated from Boston University in 1957 with a B.A. in American Literature. She went on to study English literature at the graduate level at Brandeis University. In 1958 she married the painter James Upham and the couple moved to New York City.[2] The following year, Iannone taught herself to paint alongside her husband.[citation needed] Between 1963 and 1967 she exhibited with her husband at the Stryke Gallery, an exhibition space she ran with her husband in New York and traveled frequently to Europe and Asia.[citation needed] In 1961 the U.S. Customs at the Idlewild Airport in Queens, New York seized her book The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller she was traveling with and which was banned at the time.[2] Iannone sued the U.S. Customs with assistance from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which caused her book to be returned and the ban on Miller to be lifted.[2]


The majority of Iannone's paintings, texts, and visual narratives depict themes of erotic love.[2] Her explicit renderings of the human body draw heavily from the artist's travels and from Japanese woodcuts, Greek vases, and visual motifs from Eastern religions, including Tibetan Buddhism, Indian Tantrism and Christian ecstatic traditions like those of the seventeenth-century Baroque.[4] Her small wooden statues of celebrities with visible genitals, including Charlie Chaplin and Jacqueline Kennedy, especially display with the artist's interest in African tribal statues.[2]

The explicit nature of Iannone's work frequently fell foul of censors in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.[2] The artist said of the early censorship of her work: "When my work was not censored outright, it was either mildly ridiculed or described as folkloric, or just ignored."[2] In 1969 the Kunsthalle Bern tried to censor Iannone's work in the group exhibition Ausstellung der Freunde by requesting that she cover up the genitals of her figures.[5] In protest Dieter Roth dropped out of the exhibition and the curator of the Kunsthalle Bern, Harald Szeeman, resigned.[5] Iannone recalled the experience in the Fluxus publication The Story of Bern or Showing Colors (1970).[citation needed]

Iannone's first solo exhibition in the US, Lioness, was held at the New Museum in 2009.[5] Her work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions across Europe throughout her life, and recently a substantial number of her works were collected in Dorothy Iannone: You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends.[citation needed]

Partnership with Dieter Roth[edit]

On a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland in 1967, Iannone met the Swiss artist Dieter Roth.[2] Iannone separated from her husband one week later.[2] Iannone lived with Roth in Düsseldorf, Reykjavik, Basel and London until 1974.[6] Roth became Iannone's muse and features in much of her artwork. His nickname for her was "lioness."[2] One of her most noted works involving Roth is her book An Icelandic Saga (1978–86), which vividly illustrates the artist's first encounter with Roth and her subsequent breakup with her husband in the vein of a Norse myth.[7] She also created paintings of her and Roth in sexual union as historical couples. For instance, I Am Whoever You Want Me To Be (1970) and I Begin To Feel Free (1970) reference both Anthony and Cleopatra as well as brightly colored African tribal imagery.[citation needed] Iannone and Roth remained friends until his death in 1998.[6]


Public collections[edit]


  1. ^ a b Iannone, Dorothy (American installation artist, born 1933). Union List of Artist Names Online. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Trust. Accessed May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rosenberg, Karen. "An Iconoclast Who Valorizes the Erotic and Ecstatic" The New York Times, Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  3. ^ Dorothy Iannone this sweetness outside of time. Berlin: Berlinische Galerie, Museum für Moderne Kunst. 2014. p. 152. ISBN 9783866789241.
  4. ^ From a press release for "Dorothy Iannone. This Sweetness Outside of Time. Retrospective 1959–2014," Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.
  5. ^ a b c Gregory, Jarrett. "Dorothy Iannone: Lioness" New Museum, Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b Eichler, Dominic. "Dorothy Iannone" Archived 15 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine Frieze Magazine, Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Dorothy Iannone" The Whitney Biennial, Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  8. ^ "What's On: Innocent and Aware" Camden Arts Centre, Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Artists’ Books of Dorothy Iannone – An Exhibition at the NY Art Book Fair." Archived 14 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine Printed Matter, Retrieved 13 February 2017.

External links[edit]