Over six decades, Dorothy Iannone (b. 1933) has celebrated love and freedom in a narrative universe of text and images. This summer, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
will present a retrospective selection of Iannones work as part of the Louisiana on Paper exhibition series. This is the artist's first solo exhibition at a museum in Scandinavia.
Freedom, liberated sexuality, ecstatic unions and eros in the broadest possible sense are central themes of Dorothy Iannones art. Merging the personal and the mythological, Iannones work is often based directly on her own life and experiences, while drawing on a wealth of historical and literary references.
Text and images come together in Iannones colourful, ornamental universe. Like graphic novels, many of her works combine handwriting and images to tell the story candidly and with humour invested in visual and verbal details. Iannones works flow from myriad historical representations of love relations, sex, ecstasy, freedom and existence across times, cultures and religions and her autofictional images contain references to antiquity, Greek vases, Egyptian art, Roman and Pompeian murals, the Indian Kama Sutra and tantra, Icelandic sagas, Christianity, Buddhism, world literature and film history.
Key works from six decades of art-making
The exhibition presents a selection of Iannones art over six decades, including several key works. In addition to drawings and prints, the scope of her work is unfolded in paintings, cut-outs and three of her original video sculptures. Three brightly coloured Statues of Liberty, made for New Yorks High Line in 2018, are displayed as murals.
Among the key works are two narratives, The Story of Bern (Or) Showing Colors (1970), and The Icelandic Saga (1978, 1983, 1986). Bern describes the censorship, including artistic self-censorship, at a 1969 show at Kunsthalle Bern, where her fellow artists and the exhibitions curator, the future legend Harald Szeemann, abetted the censorship of Iannones works by taping over the genitals in her drawings. Censorship has both directly and indirectly been a recurring phenomenon for the artist. She was fighting against it as early as in 1961, when her lawsuit against the US government brought an end to the ban on Henry Millers books.
The Icelandic Saga is a love story about the encounter between Iannone and the Swiss artist Dieter Roth. Meeting Roth, on a trip to Iceland in 1967, was life-changing, and the two were a couple for the next seven years. Serving as her muse, Roth appears as a character in many of Iannones works. Later partners perform a similar function. Some works feature Erik Bock (b. 1941), a Danish pastor who served at Copenhagens Holy Cross Church for 40 years.
Central to the exhibition is A Cookbook, 1969, a tour-de-force artists book mixing existential reflections and sundry thoughts into neatly lettered recipes. A mayonnaise recipe includes the following observation, Well, God could be a woman. Sorry. In Iannones signature style, the book is rich in details, sensuality and gender-policy statements, served salty, sour, bitter, umami and seductively sweet in this take on the classic cookbook format.
Dorothy Iannone was born in 1933 in Boston and has been based in Europe since 1967. Today, she lives and works in Berlin. She is represented in Louisianas collection with two prints. Her work is found in many other museum collections, including those of Centre Pompidou, Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Berlinische Galerie and Tate Modern.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by the Italian art historian Barbara Casavecchia and texts by the artist herself.
The exhibition is part of the Louisiana on Paper series, following exhibitions by, among others, Pia Arke, Nancy Spero, Birgit Jürgenssen, Dea Trier Mørch, Ed Ruscha, George Condo, Joseph Beuys and Picasso.