Dorothy Iannone: “What it means to be devoted to someone or something”

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January 9th, 2015


(Review) You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends


Dorothy Iannone: The Book of Love


Originally published January 9th, 2015


Decades before Tracey Emin showed the world her messy bed, and made confessional art a “thing,” Dorothy Iannone was quietly making work about sex, love, friends, and the mundane tasks of our everyday. Iannone’s work (which was often censored over the years and dismissed for its simple, comic book-like style and graphic sexual content) has received renewed interest from the art world recently. In 2009, the New Museum presented her first solo exhibition at a US art venue, which was followed by wide-ranging gallery exhibitions and additional museum shows in Paris, London, and Berlin. A new publication, You Who Read Me with Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends (Siglio Press, 2014) builds on that interest. The book assembles rare and out-of-print artist books, drawings, etchings, and unpublished texts spanning Iannone’s more than 40-year career, and reproduces many of them in their entirety. Included also are a number familiar works like On+On (1979), A Cookbook (1969), and I Was Thinking of You (1975), along with excerpts of a 2011 interview with artist Maurizio Cattelan, as well as conversations with critic Trinie Dalton (who also contributes an essay), and writer Noa Jones.

Born in 1933 in a multigenerational Catholic household, Iannone studied literature at Boston and Brandeis Universities before marrying painter James Upham in 1958. They traveled frequently to Asia, North Africa, and Europe, and she began to incorporate into her paintings the artistic styles from art she had seen during her travels: Japanese woodcuts, Indian erotica and paintings from Mughal Empire, Greek and Egyptian sculpture. Together, she and Upham opened Stryker Gallery in the heart of New York’s vibrant downtown art scene in 1963, and Iannone befriended several European and American ex-pat artists such as Robert Fillou and George Brecht. Soon, a trip to Iceland with another friend, the Fluxus artist and poet Emmett Williams, would forever change her life. She met and fell in love with artist Dieter Roth and after a brief return trip to New York, Iannone left her husband to move back to Reykjavík. She lived and worked with Roth there and in London, Basel and Düsseldorf until their relationship ended in 1974.

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