Dorothy Dehner Retrospective Opens at Berry Campbell in New York

New York, NY – May 23, 2024 – June 22, 2024

NEW YORK, NY – Berry Campbell is proud to present a comprehensive retrospective of the works of Dorothy Dehner (1901-1994), showcasing an extensive collection of her paintings, drawings, and sculptures. The exhibition, titled Dorothy Dehner: A Retrospective, will be on view from May 23 to June 22, 2024. This event marks the first significant exhibition of Dehner’s work since her retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1995.

The retrospective offers a detailed exploration of Dehner’s seventy-year artistic career, beginning with her early oil painting of a still life from 1936 and progressing through her iconic ink and watercolor abstract drawings from the 1940s and 1950s. These early drawings, executed using a “wet on wet” technique, highlight Dehner’s evolving artistic vision. The exhibition also addresses her personal life, noting her marriage to renowned sculptor David Smith, and how it influenced her delayed entry into sculpture after their divorce in 1950.

Visitors will find several early sculptures from the 1950s and 1960s, primarily created using the lost wax process. A particular highlight is Dehner’s rarely exhibited series of assemblages from the 1970s, known as I Ching. This series was influenced by John Cage’s avant-garde sounds and theories, introduced to Dehner by her friend Louise Nevelson. The totemic feel of Untitled (I Ching), constructed from thin wood pieces arranged in rhythmic patterns, stands out as a significant part of her oeuvre.

As her career progressed, Dehner began collaborating with fabricators to achieve her dream of creating large-scale sculptures. The centerpiece of the exhibition, Prelude and Fugue (1989), is among the largest she ever produced, standing over eight feet tall and wide and crafted from painted black steel. Another major work, Demeter’s Harrow (1990), features playful geometric forms made from Corten steel.

Joan M. Marter, Ph.D., President of the Dorothy Dehner Foundation, has been instrumental in placing Dehner within the context of other Abstract Expressionists. Marter’s research has led to numerous accolades, including a feature article in the Woman’s Art Journal in 2023, which discusses Dehner’s close relationship with Nevelson. Dehner’s work has been displayed in prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, including her totemic sculpture Encounter, currently on view.

Dehner is recognized alongside notable Abstract Expressionist sculptors such as Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Herbert Ferber, Ibram Lassaw, David Hare, and David Smith. Her work is part of collections at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Storm King Art Center, The British Museum, and Dresden Museum, among many others. Berry Campbell proudly represents the Dorothy Dehner Foundation.

Dorothy Dehner: A Retrospective will have its opening reception on Thursday, May 30, 2024, from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition is accompanied by a 64-page, fully illustrated catalog, featuring an introduction by Joan M. Marter, Ph.D., and a full-length essay by Sophie Lachowsky. A panel discussion led by Dr. Marter will take place at the gallery on Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m.

About Berry Campbell Gallery

Christine Berry and Martha Campbell founded Berry Campbell Gallery in Chelsea, New York, ten years ago. The gallery specializes in post-war American painting, with a particular focus on artists who have been underrepresented or neglected, especially women of Abstract Expressionism. The gallery’s dedication to research and advocacy for overlooked artists has garnered recognition from curators, collectors, and the press.

In 2022, Berry Campbell relocated to 524 W 26th Street, one of the most prestigious blocks in Chelsea. The new 9,000 square foot space has previously housed prominent galleries such as Paula Cooper Gallery and Robert Miller Gallery.

Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberg
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM.
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