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Dorothy Iannone

SEX, SOUND, WORD & VIDEO

AMASTER OF EROTIC ART. THE PICTURES, PAINTINGS, OBJECTS, IMAGES-WRITINGSSOUNDS AND FILM INSTALLATIONS OF DOROTHY IANNONE ARE A HOMAGE TO DIETER ROTH; A PRAISE TO EROTICISM AS AN EXPRESSION OF DIVINE UNION BETWEEN BODY AND SOUL. DESPITE HER ADMIRATION FOR LOVE, DOROTHY IANNONE IS THE MAIN ACTRESS AND SUBJECT IN HER ART.

A fateful encounter: in 1967 Dorothy met Dieter. The author of ‘literature sausages’ was born in 1930 in Hannover and brought up in Reykjavik, son of German and Swiss parents and at the time was experiencing a moment of fame. Dorothy, however, was three years his junior and a virtually unknown American literature researcher. He leaves a failed marriage behind him, while she lives with her husband, painter and mathematician James Upham, in New York where they both own and run a gallery. The concept artist Emmett Williams wants to write a book on Dieter Roth and invites Dorothy and James on a freighter to Reykjavik.

Sex is that sweet pulsion which pushes her to paint, write, make, sing, and film outside of time.

Once there, ‘Dieter was waiting for us at the pier, with a very fresh fish wrapped in newspaper under his arm. He was an exceedingly good-looking man, who seemingly had trouble resisting to my appeal, too,’ is how Dorothy Iannone remembers the encounter. ‘James and I stayed for five days in Reykjavik and during that time, something momentous occurred between me and Dieter. We gradually gave in to our reciprocal feelings, day in and day out. Dieter wanted to approach me more and more and, slowly yet steadily, I grew more aware that, for maybe the first time in my life, I had encountered love.’

Dorothy leaves her husband and dives into an amorous adventure that makes her happy (despite leaving her destitute) because she finds her muse in Dieter. The relationship stretches to seven years, their love tokens scattered around the world: rented apartments and hotel rooms in Reykjavik, Basel, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and London. An experience that will change Dorothy and her career forever. Even after leaving Dieter, she remains his friend until he passes away in 1998. ‘His driving force was truth. He would inspire, strengthen and magnetise whoever crossed his forcefield in a tormented, ecstatic, drunken and sober way. The king is dead, long live his work,’ wrote Dorothy in the year 2000 on her painting Miss My Muse. Her naïve, colourful, ornamental, reminiscent of the figurative art in Indian temples production is a type of Kamasutra for the home: love is not a sin because lovers are pure and not guilty. Surrounded by beautiful objects they cultivate their thespian harmony of an ideal relationship.

Dorothy Iannone was born on 9 August 1933 in an Italian family in Boston. She had been active against the ban of Henri Miller’s book in the USA, considered pornographic, since the start of the 60s. She began working on erotic paintings nearly a decade before the sexual revolution. Yet while her work – including the wooden People series covered in genitals – shocked none of her acquaintances and friends in New York, Germany and Switzerland deemed them pornographic and banned their exposure until the 90s, leading to them being covered or removed from art galleries and museums. Despite the sexual revolution, erotic art is still man’s domain. An unveiled female interpretation of erotic art can often represent an alarm bell attracting the attention of the morality police.

As an independent artistic figure, Dorothy Iannone will not be taken seriously for some time. Despite living since the end of the 70s in Berlin, she has to turn 80 to fully enjoy her first retrospective. The This Sweetness Outside Of Time was hosted by the Berlinische Galerie in 2014 and presented the impressive retrospective of the artist whose oeuvre is contagious right from the start for its diversity and multimedial aspect. Sex is that sweet pulsion which pushes her to paint, write, make, sing, and film outside of time.

She unites pictures with words, is author of art books, creates furniture and ‘singing boxes’ that produce her songs and declamations, and creates objects where she integrates her self-made videos. In I Was Thinking Of You (1975) you can see the face of a woman going through all the stages of sexual arousal right until she climaxes. That’s her face. The artist filmed herself right until she reached the peak of excitement. Dorothy Iannone is wired to think of love day and night. This is her world. And nothing more.

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1954 in Warschau geboren, studierte Germanistik und Romanistik an der Universität Bukarest und Warschau. Sie lebt seit 1986 in Deutschland, zuletzt in Berlin. Journalistin, Übersetzerin und Kuratorin, arbeitet als freie Kunstpublizistin mit polnischen und deutschsprachigen Medien zusammen.

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