Most often, when one pictures folk art it conjures images of rural settings where the expression is greater than the need to be seen as ‘art for arts sake.’ Often full of color, it captures emotions in broad swatches and becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Dorothy Iannone has taken that energy and given it a decidedly erotic flavor.

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Born in Massachusetts but living in Berlin, she is self taught and has pulled influences from her travels abroad, such as the African tribal patterns seen in the image above. Although she has been painting since the 60’s, her work was censored until recently, partly due to the nature of her work and partly due to sexism. Now in her 80’s, she has gained the recognition she deserves.

dorothyIannonethissweetness7In her early life, she was married to a fellow painter, James Upham, but she left him in 1967 for another painter, Dieter Roth. Much like her work which flips gender roles, Roth became her muse, and his body inspired many of her most scintillating pieces, like the image to the left which pictures the couple as Anthony and Cleopatra. Starting with their relationship and later adding more couples to her art, she celebrated what she calls “ecstatic unity.”

Beyond the complex emotions behind sex that she calls out, her work expresses passion without limits. Frequently showing unbridled need, the graphic details of her work are frequently pushing it towards the pornagraphic, but the details she uses keep it from falling into flat lust. The characters she depicts have personality and their primal needs are both intimate and carnal. The end result is celebration of the body and sex in all its forms and complexities.

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Click here to learn more about Dorothy Iannone.

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