Dorothy Iannone — Toujours de l’audace


Installation, painting, mixed media, video

Dorothy Iannone
Toujours de l’audace

Past: September 25, 2019 → January 6, 2020

Dorothy iannone exposition artiste centre pompidou paris 12 1 grid Dorothy Iannone — Centre Pompidou (Archive 2019) Active depuis les années 1960, ce n’est qu’en 2009 qu’elle obtient sa première monographie aux États-Unis. Le parcours de Dorothy Iannone (1933), complexe, s’éclaire à la faveur du focus placé sur elle par le Centre Pompidou.

The Focus room at the Museum is hosting an exhibition of American artist Dorothy Iannone (born in Boston in 1933, lives and works in Berlin), presenting more than twenty of her works from the period between 1963 and 2019. Her works with their mystical, sexual and political dimensions include paintings, drawings, collages, videos and artists’ books. The 1970s occupy an important position in this exhibition: the sixty-nine drawings tracing The Story Of Bern (1970) and the imposing triptych dating from 1977 entitled Follow Me are major works from the period. Follow Me entered the Centre Pompidou collections in 2015, along with a series of works by the artist.

Dorothy Iannone started to paint after studying English and American literature. She first hit the headlines in the early 1960s: when returning to New York from a trip to Paris, the customs officers confiscated the copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer (published in France in 1934), which she was bringing back from her trip. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she won the spectacular case she brought in 1961 against the seizure of her book, contributing to legalize the importation of Henry Miller’s books to the United States.

Dorothy Iannone was first influenced by abstract expressionism, demonstrating great artistic mastery from the beginning of her artistic practice, but found her own personal path when she moved away from abstraction, abandoning pictorial material in favour of narrative and its graphical expression. Text, figures and exuberant ornamentation jockey for attention in her works, sometimes to the point of saturation. In the early 60s, she cofounded and managed a gallery in New York. In 1966 she meets Robert Filliou on the Côte d’Azur, then Emmett Williams in New York at the end of the same year.

Dorothy Iannone’s drawing quickly developed the illustrative form which she would never abandon.

One remarkable characteristic dates from 1966: regardless of whether her characters were presented naked or dressed, the artist deliberately revealed their genital organs.

This audacity took on an irreverent aspect in the series of figures entitled People, in which she sketched the portrait of President Johnson, as well as Robert and Jackie Kennedy, thus “undressed” in the middle of the Vietnam war. Her first clashes with censorship occurred in 1967, during a solo exhibition in Stuttgart, where all her works were confiscated by the police. The authorities then convened a tribunal of critics and art historians, which finally refuted the pornographic character attributed to the works, invoking various extra-European artistic examples. In 1969 when artist Dieter Roth invited her to participate in a group exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Bern, she was again confronted with censorship, provoked not by the authorities but by the other artists present and by the organiser, Harald Szeemann. The latter, after asking the artist to cover the sexual organs omnipresent in the drawings finally accepts that the works be taken down. Dorothy Iannone responds with the publication of 69 drawings that comprise The Story Of Bern (1970), denouncing Szeemann’s decision and asserting publicly, and all the more forcefully, her artistic choices.

Dorothy Iannone’s work is essentially autobiographical. Her meeting with Dieter Roth, both her muse and her lover, constitutes a decisive milestone in her personal life. References to this relationship appear in a recurrent manner in her work, implicitly advocating equality of the sexes and explicitly advocating the virtues of sexual activity, a blend of lived experience and mystical celebration.

FOCUS room, Museum, level 5

04 Beaubourg Zoom in 04 Beaubourg Zoom out

Place Georges Pompidou

75004 Paris

T. 01 44 78 12 33 — F. 01 44 78 16 73

Hôtel de Ville

Opening hours

Every day except Tuesday, 11 AM – 9 PM
Late night on until 11 PM

Admission fee

Full rate €14.00 — Concessions €11.00

Gratuit pour les moins de 18 ans, billet exonéré pour les moins de 26 ans. Et pour tout le monde, les premiers dimanches du mois.

Venue schedule

The artist

  • Dorothy Iannone