Montclair, New Jersey, U.S.
Lois Dodd was educated at the Cooper Union in New York City from 1945–48. She was the only woman founder of the Tanager Gallery, which was integral to the Tenth Street-avant-garde scene of the 1950s where artists began running their own coop galleries. She exhibited at Tanager Gallery from 1952-1962. From 1969-1976, she exhibited at the Green Mountain Gallery. From 1971 to 1992, Dodd taught at Brooklyn College and at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, where she served on the Board beginning in 1980 and is now Governor Emerita. She is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and of the National Academy of Design. She currently lives in New York and works in Maine.
In a 2011 interview, Dodd said of the original Tanager gallery: "In 1952...I was married to Bill King and we had an apartment on 29th Street. Ely was born in ’52 at just about the same time we opened the gallery. Angelo Ippolito, Charles Cajori, Fred Mitchell, King, and myself were the original group. Bill King and I were in Italy on his Fulbright where we met Angelo and Fred there on the G.I. Bill. Cajori had been at Skowhegan with Bill. We had reunited in New York after our return from Italy...It was on 4th Street in this tiny space that had been a barbershop. The elevated subway was still running up and down the Bowery. There was a bar across the street and a lot of Bowery guys were around the corner, completely different than it is now."
As part of the wave of New York modernists to explore the coast of Maine just after the end of the second world war, Dodd helped to change the face of painting in the state. Along with Fairfield Porter, Rackstraw Downes, Alex Katz, Charles DuBack, and Neil Welliver, Dodd began spending her summers in the Mid-Coast region surrounding Penobscot Bay. Attracted by inexpensive but rambling old farmhouses, verdant fields, and the bright sunshine of a summer's day, these artists sought both companionship and an escape from the demands of city life. The break from the city and its urbane art circles allowed them the freedom to explore new modes of painting-the landscape and the figure-that were anathema in the era of Abstract Expressionism.
Dodd is known primarily for her observational paintings of landscapes, nudes, and still lives. As the artist stated in an interview, "I would find it, see it, and say 'that's exciting' but I don't want to set things up."  It is in her finding and framing of the everyday that something quietly original and deeply felt permeates the work. By painting her immediate circumstances, which can hardly be considered grand or bourgeois, and never moving away from that unadorned realm, Dodd rejected the sources that others of her generation took as a given: mass media, popular culture, and the bright surfaces of a comfortable life. There is nothing glitzy about the work, neither in its subject matter nor in her use of materials. She does not celebrate excess, ownership, or leisure, nor does she condemn it. Whether or not she intends her refusals to be a comment on the work of those around her, her paintings embody an implicit critique of those who believe acquisitiveness, possession, and leisure are integral to the pursuit of happiness.
Catching the light This was the first career museum retrospective for Lois Dodd in 2013. It features her paintings that represent the places and subjects that have mattered most to her in her 60 years as an artist. They include views of New York City’s Lower East Side as seen from her apartment windows. They include imagery from the woods and gardens of Maine, and some winter scenes located by her family’s home in New Jersey. Lois Dodd was a key member of New York’s postwar art scene. She played a large part and was involved in the wave of modern artists including Alex Katz and Yvonne Jacquette who explored the coast of Maine in the latter half of the 20th century. The exhibition features about 51 works that range in date from the 1950s to 2010’s.
Awards and honors
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Grants and Awards
- 2007 Benjamin West Clinedinst Medal, Artists’ Fellowship
- 2005 Augustus St. Gaudens Distinguished Alumni Award, Cooper Union
- 2004 Honorary Degree Old Lyme Academy
- 1991 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Hassam, Speicher, Betts and Symons Purchase Prize
- 1990 National Academy of Design—Henry Ward Ranger Purchase Award
- 1987 Cooper Union Distinguished Alumni Citation
- 1987 National Academy of Design—Leonilda S. Gervas Award
- 1986 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award
- 1971 Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant
- 1962 Longview Foundation Purchase Award
- 1959-1960 Italian Government Study Grant
- 1998 to date American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters
- 1990 – 1993 Colby College Museum Advisory Board
- 1988 to date National Academy of Design
- Chairperson, Board of Governors 1986 – 1988, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture
- Board of Governors 1980 to date, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture
- 1977 Board of Advisors, Artist’s Choice Museum
- 1972 – 1974 Board Member, The Lower East Side Printshop, East 4th Street, New York
- 1972 – 1975 Chairperson, Cooper Square Community Development Committee
- 1962 – 1975 Artist’s Housing committee, Cooper Square
- 1952 – 1962 Tanager Gallery, a founder
- Cohen, David. Calm Uncertainties.
- Kramer, Hilton. "Painter Lois Dodd, Overlooked by Era, Finally is Feted". The New York Observer, March 2, 2003.
- Skowhegan School. "Board". Skowhegan School or Painting and Sculpture. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- New York Studio School Lois Dodd
- Brooklyn Rail Interview
- Cozad, Rachael Blackburn "Lois Dodd: Catching the Light, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art"
- Yau, John, "Lois Dodd with John Yau, "The Brooklyn Rail", February 2011
- Yau, John " Every Day is a Good Day, Lois Dodd: Catching the Light, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art"