“Art is the world I have created which never lets me down. A word to which I can return again and again and smile and be immortal.”

Dorothy Iannone


Dorothy Iannone (1933–2022) was an American visual artist renowned for her vibrant and expressive artistic language. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Iannone initially pursued literature studies at Boston University before shifting her focus to art in the late 1950s. In the early 1960s, she moved to Europe and became associated with avant-garde art movements seeking to break down artistic boundaries and challenge conventional cultural norms. Her diverse practice encompassed paintings, artists’ books, video installations, sculptures, and sound works. Throughout her career, Iannone’s art has been deeply autobiographical, reflecting her experiences and relationships. Her work often features vibrant, colourful, and explicit depictions of sexuality and the human body, exploring themes of love, ecstasy, and the pursuit of personal freedom. Her bold and unapologetic approach to sexuality has occasionally led to censorship and exclusion. 


Dorothy Iannone is born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

She studies literature at Boston University and Brandeis University

Dorothy gets married to James Upham. The couple moves to New York

She paints abstract images and makes collages in a style that is reminiscent of abstract expressionism

After a trip to Europe, Iannone brings copies of Henry Miller's novels, Tropic of Cancer (1934), Tropic of Capricorn (1938) and Plexus (1952) to the US. The US customs confiscates the book. The artist sues the US government, which eventually causes her books to be returned and the ban on Miller to be lifted

Trips to Asia and Europe

Her art starts to become more figurative

Together with her husband, Dorothy goes on a trip to Iceland, where she meets the Swiss artist Dieter Roth. Iannone separates from her husband one week after her return to the US. Her Dialogues (1968–1969), a series of drawings in the form of a diary, provides one of the first insights into her relationship with Dieter

Iannone works on the People series. Based on fictional and real characters, each of the wooden cutouts has prominent genitals. One of the first works developed in Dorothy's unique style, it becomes subject to the first act of censorship and gets arrested by the police in Stuttgart

Dorothy and Dieter move to Düsseldorf. As a response to Dieter's enquiry about her previous lovers, she creates Lists IV – A much more detailed than requested reconstruction

Following her passion for cooking, Dorothy starts working on A Cookbook, the artist's book full of recipes, references to her personal life, and political statements

For his exhibition entitled “Freunde, Friends, d’Fründe” (Kunsthalle Bern, 1969), Harald Szeemann invites Karl Gerstner, Roth, Daniel Spoerri, and André Thomkins who all decided to exhibit their artists friends; Dieter Roth chooses Dorothy Iannone alongside Emmett Williams. Dorothy's (Ta)Rot Pack, a series of drawings representing her daily life with Dieter, gets censored and removed from the exhibition. The censorship of Iannone, and Roth’s protest, eventually forced Szeemann to resign as the director of the institution

Dorothy publishes The Story of Bern, the series of drawings in the form of an artist's book that reconstructs the story of censorship in Bern

Iannone works on the Eros Paintings, a series of works representing her erotic relationship with Dieter. Dorothy speaks about female sexuality, female autonomy and desire

With a series of works called music boxes, Dorothy makes a move towards three-dimensional formats and incorporates audio cassettes into her painting

Dorothy separates from Dieter and goes to the South of France (she is familiar with the region since she met the Fluxus group in the 60s). Iannone and Roth remained friends until his death in 1998

For her first video box, I Was Thinking of You, Iannone transforms a video into a freestanding object covered with painting and writing, thus accentuating both the spatial and temporal aspects of the work.

Dorothy moves to Berlin

She receives the DAAD artist's scholarship and further experiments with sound and video in her work

Dorothy and Mary Harding found Passion Press. Speaking to Each Other, With Mary Harding tells a story of their relationship

The Statue of Liberty becomes a significant character in her work

Dorothy Iannone works on An Icelandic Saga (48 drawings, books and a special edition printed on textile) that tells the story of her encounter with Dieter Roth

A Fluxus Essay is published in the form of audio and then made into a music box

Dorothy has a relationship with pastor Erik Bock. She convinces him to perform for one of the video recordings and then incorporates it into a video box entitled The Heroic Performance Of Pastor Erik Bock

Dorothy Iannone commences the study and daily practice of Tibetan Buddhism

Sarah Pucci, Dorothy Iannone's mother, dies. In 1998, their works are exhibited together for the first time

After exhibitions at the Sprengel Museum, Wrong Gallery and Kunsthalle Wien, Iannone begins working with Air de Paris

Dorothy works on the Movie People series, Statues of Liberty, Giant People and new paintings, and publishes new editions. A period rich in exhibitions begins: 2012 Peres Projects; 2013 Camden Art Centre; 2014 Berlinische Galerie & Migros Museum; 2019 Centre Pompidou; 2022 Lousiana Museum and Kunsten Museum.

On December 26, Dorothy Iannone dies in Berlin at the age of 89

Love Is Forever, Isn’t It?, retrospective exhibition at M HKA in Antwerp