After Death

The Dehners decide to move to the more healthful climate of California. In preparation, Lulu takes the children to see Niagara Falls, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History in New York.

February 11, DD and DS attend John Reed Club meeting with Graham, hear heated discussion over politicization of art after Diego Rivera’s Communist-inspired mural at Rockefeller Center is removed. During winter T.E.R.A. becomes subsumed into W.P.A.

John Graham meets DD and DS at Paris’s Gare St. Lazare, conducts them through modern art as well as African and oceanic art galleries. They see most-recent Picassos (probably Minotaur Series), Braques, Legers. They stay at the Medicale, a hotel/hospital in the Latin Quarter with Graham and his “second American wife.” DD and DS develop solid connoisseurship under Graham. DD and DS meet dealer Louis Carré, help Carré catalog his Nigerian Court Sculpture Collection for exhibit at Knoedler Gallery, New York. DD and DS visit Brussels to see Belgian Congo sculpture and to buy linen for painting supports. Back in Paris DDattends Paris gallery show with Jacques Lipchitz and also meets Surrealist Max Ernst. DS pulls prints at Stanley William Hayter’s “Atelier 17” (for men only).

In November DD and DS travel to Greece via Marseilles and Malta. They visit Acropolis and DS rents Athens studio for sculpture while DD draws small-scale genre scenes and landscapes. DD and DS witness power struggle between monarchist and populist factions, prelude to Nazi takeover of Greece. Expansive ancient coin collection at National Museum of Greece greatly impresses DS.

DD and DS return to Bolton, then visit DS’s parents briefly in Paulding, Ohio. Aunt Flo visits the farm, where DS makes two attempts on her life by throwing rocks at her head, one of which lands on an interior wall right above her forehead. Aunt Flo leaves, never to visit again. DD expresses support for Lincoln Brigade’s fight against Nazis in Spanish Civil War. DD and DS receive support of young art historian Jerry Jeffers Dodge, who begins to catalog and to acquire new works for the personal collection of the Hyde family in nearby Glens Falls (established as a museum in 1963). DD petitions local farmers to join Farmers Labor Party as DD and DS stay in Bolton to vote for FDR. In Glens Falls DD and DS meet Ridge Book Store owners Vic and “Hep” Liddle, who introduce them to young professionals’ circle. Returning to 165 Congress St., Brooklyn, in fall, living near Edgar and Lucille Corcos Levy as well as Esther and Adolph Gottlieb. DD’s Etching “Artists’ Parlor Game” reflects these close friendships.

That spring DD and DS carry his small sculptures on NYC subway, trek to modern art galleries in hopes of approval, but experience total rejection. They finally meet Marian Willard, owner of Willard’s East River Gallery, who agrees to give DS his first one-man show. DS begins “Medals for Dishonor“ Project. DD notes DS’s intellectual and artistic process while he works on medals. Couple return to Bolton, where they renew friendship with Mordecai Bauman, DD’s theatrical and political sympathizer, at Green Mansions Resort; DD and DS continue friendship with Glens Falls friends. Liddles commission DD to draw “Glens Falls Party.” DD separates the Grahams’ belongings in Bolton after their divorce. DD and DS return to 165 Congress St., where DS prepares for Willard show.

DS begins welding that spring in Schenectady for American Locomotive Co. (ALCO), prime tank producer for war effort. DD sends three paintings to Butler Art Institute in Youngstown, is asked to show at Katrina Trask house in Saratoga Springs; also wins Book Review Contest, sponsored by literary critic Granville Hicks. DD and DS rent apartment at 1113 McClellan St., Schenectady. DD attempts unsuccessfully to market commercial art projects to Glamour magazine, takes commission for domestic scene painting and participates in Albany Institute of History and Art exhibition that May. DD and DS vacation on farm that summer. Willard visits, proposes show for DS, in Jan. 1943. In fall DS decides to compete for a commission for Nationalist Chinese Commemorative Medal; DD researches Chinese history and art for imagery. DS classified 1-A (by mistake), sweats the draft. DD considers show in Washington, D.C. gallery. DS gains certification of “Welder, First Class” and joins United Steelworkers of America, Local 2054. DD has first solo show in the late fall at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, a psychological boost.

DD begins dark, self-expressive drawings, turning away from narrative painting. In fall DD begins experiments on Japanese handmade paper of watercolor washes overlaid with ink drawings, executes “Damnation Series” such as “Desolation Landscape”. DD and DS spend Christmas holidays with the Levys in New City. Revelations about Nazi death camps and the Holocaust, as well as photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroyed by A-bomb, are made public in Life magazine. DD suffers despair over world calamity and her own marital stress.

DD draws “The Aviary” that spring and, haunted by the beginning of the Atomic Age and revelations of the Holocaust, begins a series of apocalyptic drawings and paintings, Suite Moderne: The Dance of Death, executed in gouache, ink (and, possibly, conte crayon) on paper.

DD teaches Bolton children and young adults in summer art program, receives local attention through feature article in Warrensburg News. DD and DS begin remodeling farmhouse. Severe marital tensions continue. DD enters work for the Audubon Annual and exhibits in group show at the Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio, again. DD and DS spend Christmas Day with the George Reises (U.S. Speedboat Racing Gold Cup winner) in Bolton.

DS leaves for teaching job at Sarah Lawrence College on September 30. DS comes home on weekends, but is increasingly critical, cruel and abusive of DD.

DD gives gallery talk on her work at Studio Arts Club, Skidmore College, in November; has solo show at Hathorn Studio, Skidmore College, December 6-14, 1948. Also participates in group show at Butler Art Institute. DD and DS spend Christmas Day with George Reises in Bolton.

DD and DS continue progress during the summer on house, perched precariously on hill. DD works with musician Hugh Allen Wilson on proposed Bolton Music Festival, a flop because of polio scare. DD is anxious about unpaid loans, bills.

DS returns to Sarah Lawrence.DD in Group Exhibition at Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, Utica, NY; show travels to Pasadena Art Institute and San Francisco Museum of Art.

DD and DS spend Christmas Holidays with the Levys, extending their stay to several days in NYC.

DD and DS spend two weeks in NYC for Whitney and Willard shows during April and May. Howard DeVree, critic from the New York Times, gives DD her first NY positive review, intervenes with Rose Fried to give DD a berth in a group exhibition in NYC, May, 1952. DD also arranges participation at group show at Laurel Gallery for April 1951. DS’s sales at Willard’s are dismal. DD and DS view May Day Parade and attend party at Fitches where DD meets modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer. DS applies for Prix de Rome. Loads of tile and cinder blocks arrive at Bolton building site.

The back of the partially constructed house falls off its foundation, dividing the building in two—a great calamity. DS does not get the Prix de Rome. DD gets distress call from Aunt Flo, leaves for California. Arriving at NYC airport enroute back to Bolton, DD calls California to learn Flo is near death, and DD returns to Flo without meeting the waiting DS, who becomes furious. Aunt Flo dies, May 29.

DD returns to Bolton in June after arranging for Flo’s remains and executing her will. DS expresses a sense of abandonment but no sympathy. DD returns to Pasadena to appear in Probate Court, angering DS further. In late summer DD and DS decline Levy invitation to Fire Island, make peace and decide to vacation in Woodstock, Cape Cod, Maine, returning to Bolton through New Hampshire, their first vacation together, except to NYC, in almost 15 years.

DD exhibits work in an annual Group Exhibition at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica. DS returns to Sarah Lawrence in the fall, meets student Jean Freas and they fall in love. DS tells DD that he wants to break up with her, marry Freas and have children to pass on his name. DD is devastated.

DD and DS spend Thanksgiving Day with the George Reises. After return to farmhouse, DS attacks DD so violently she thinks he will kill her. Wearing only her fur coat and boots, she flees in the truck to Mary Newman’s house across the road and never lives with DS again. The next day she sees Dr. Leonard Busman, who confirms that she has three broken ribs.

DD confers in mid-January with the Skidmore College Registrar for Credit Evaluation and files a 1951-52 Degree Plan, attempting an ambitious schedule to culminate in a BS degree in applied art and New York art education certification. DD and faculty member Robert Davidson show at the Albany Institute of History and Art. She also shows for the last time in the Munson- Williams-Proctor Institute’s annual group exhibition. Her social life is full and exciting as she is accepted as a peer among the art faculty. DD applies for Yaddo Fellowship In February but is rejected.

During the spring term, DD analyzes power structure of NYC art scene (major critics and galleries); states views on Surrealism, Ab-Exers, and her “personal art ” for Skidmore course. While DS is gone from the farm, DD and the Davidsons retrieve some of her belongings. When DS returns, he discovers that an oil fire has practically burned down the farmhouse.

DD spends two weeks at Provincetown during summer vacation, working in Ad Rheinhardt’s studio, then briefly visits Fitches in New City, and finally, rents cottage near Levys at Fire Island. She works on experimental abstract drawings with washes overlaid with pen-and-ink, brush-and-ink drawing. Through Lucille Corcos Levy, DD meets Walter Fleisher, who owns estate on Saw Mill Road in Rockland County, where a gardener’s cottage is available for rent after she graduates. She returns to Skidmore for fall semester, 1951.

DD participates in Group Exhibition at Rose Fried Gallery, NYC, receiving strong critical approval. By July she is working at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 printmaking studio and has met fellow artist Louise Nevelson. In addition to learning printmaking, DD purchases good camera and spends a year photographing Nevelson’s work within the sculptor’s two Greenwich Village brownstones. Nevelson subsequently donates these photographs to the Archives of American Art in Washington, DC, attributing work to Dehner (whereabouts of photographs currently unknown).

During the summer DD develops the art program at the Indian Hill Music Workshop in the Berkshires, a camp for teenagers interested in the arts, owned and operated by Mordacai and Irma Cormandy Bauman. DD meets Ferdinand Mann, owner of fine art reproductions company Modern Classics, a widower and the father of one of her students Abigail Mann. In the fall, DD teaches art for an adult education program at Haverstraw High School, fairly near her cottage; also, she commutes to the City’s Upper West Side to teach art at the Barnard School for Girls, a secondary school located near Barnard College.

DD contracts with the Lending Service of the Museum of Modern Art, an entity which lends work by a number of prestigious artists to private art patrons for rental fee, split by MoMA and the individual artist. This plan yields the artist greater exposure and a limited income stream. (This model of a Museum Rental Gallery will later be replicated in Cincinnati, and Dehner will participate in it.)

DD shows watercolors at Willard Gallery with Gina Knee and Sibley Smith and begins long relationship (1955-1976) with Marian Willard as her dealer. Her work appears in other Group Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum in the International Watercolor Exhibition, 18th Biennial, at the Museum of Modern Art; and at the S.A.G.A. Architectural League Gallery in the NYC area. Nationally, her Group Exhibitions include those at the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Columbus, Ohio, Museum; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Cincinnati Museum; the Des Moines Art Center; and the Colorado Springs Art Center.

DD exhibits work in Group Exhibitions including those at the Museum of Modern Art; in the “Forty by Fourteen” at the Riverside Museum in NYC; with the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Society; the North Carolina Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston; and at the San Francisco Museum of Art.

DD also shows work in Group Exhibitions: at the Museum of Modern Art, in “Recent Sculpture, U.S.A.”; at the Sculptors Guild’s Lever House Annual; with the Stable Gallery’s New Sculpture Group; with the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors at the Riverside Museum; and the Brooklyn Museum in the NYC area. Nationally, she sends work to Group Exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art; the University of Virginia Museum in Charlottesville; the North Carolina Museum, Raleigh; the Birmingham Museum of Art; the City Art Museum of St. Louis; the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Society at the Contemporary Arts Center; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and to the Contemporary Art Museum in Dallas.

Cora Uphof (anglicized name “Upton”), DD’s older aunt, dies in Calif., 122 No. Orange Blvd., L. A. County; occupation listed as “Linguist”; Causes of Death: Acute pulmonary edema, acute auricular fibrillation and hypertension; 90 years old.

DD’s Group Exhibitions in the U.S. include those with the New Sculpture Group: Fifth Exhibition at the Stable Gallery (September 28-October 24); at the Whitney Annual; with the Sculptors Guild at Lever House; at the Albright Gallery in Buffalo; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Denver Art Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum; and in Minneapolis at the Walker Museum.

Nationally, Dehner exhibits with the New Sculpture Group at the Holland-Goldowsky Gallery in Chicago, March 10-April 6; as well as in a group exhibition “The Quest and the Quarry” in Rome, New York, through the New York Art Foundation, Inc., May-September; at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; the Chrysler Art Museum in Norfolk; with the Central Louisiana Art Association at the Alexandria Museum of Art; the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Art; the Denver Art Museum; the Pasadena Art Institute; the San Francisco Museum of Art; and the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis.

While on vacation in Florida, DD experiences a coronary thrombosis, and upon her return to New York, Dehner has her first of several open-heart surgeries.

Internationally, she exhibits in “Small Sculptures: Robert Adams, Dorothy Dehner, Elizabeth Fink, Barbara Hepworth, The Waddington Galleries, London, during July.

DD exhibits in “Artists for CORE” (a Group Exhibition to benefit the Congress for Racial Equality) at the Martha Jackson Gallery, 32 East 69 Street, New York, May 23-29.

DD participates in Sculptors Guild Exhibition, 23rd Annual, New York, also with the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Inc., 23rd Annual Exhibition. She also participates in the Third Annual Exhibition and Sale, “Artists for CORE,” Gallery of American Federation of Arts (May 6-May 16, 1964.) Internationally, DD shows at the Triennale de Milano, Palazzo dell’Arte Parco Sempione Milano.

DD’s Group Exhibitions include those with the Sculptors Guild in the Lever House Annual; at the Hathorne Gallery, Skidmore College; the Museum of Contemporary Crafts (silver and bronze jewelry).

David Smith dies, May 23, of a fractured skull and lacerations, enroute to the Albany Medical Center, after running his truck into a tree on his way home from Bennington, Vermont. His “Kind of Business” is listed as “...[makes] Sculptures in Steel.”

DD participates in Group Exhibitions at the following galleries and institutions: Willard Gallery, NYC; Lever House with the Sculptor’s Guild, NYC; New York Bank for Savings with the Sculptor’s Guild. She continues to participate in the MoMA Rental Gallery, extending that participation to the Baltimore Museum of Art Rental Gallery. In a U.S. State Department collaboration with MoMA, DD’s work travels, along with that of others, to India, South America and the Middle East.

DD honored by the Hyde Museum and Collection in Glens Falls, New York; Curator James Kettlewell acquires her bronze “Low Landscape, Sideways” for the museum; she also participates in a group benefit exhibition for the Congress for Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) in NYC.

DD participates internationally in Rental Gallery Exhibitions co-sponsored by MoMA and the U.S. State Department, “Engravings, Prints and Plates,” at the Birla Academy of Art, Calcutta, India; at the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, India; and at the U.S. Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan, followed, upon the exhibition’s return to the U.S., at the Baltimore Museum. DD probably attends “The Look of a Lithographer” documenting DD’s friend Louise Nevelson’s work at the Tamarind Institute, then in L.A.

1970-71 DD exhibits in Solo Exhibitions at the Baruch College Art Gallery, City University of New York, March; at the Willard Gallery, April 21-May 23; and at the J. Walter Thompson, Co. Gallery, NYC. n.d. DD realizes no sales from cast bronzes.

DD exhibits in stateside Group Exhibitions held at the following venues: Skidmore College, National Arts Club (continuation of Skidmore Exhibition), Sculptors Guild Exhibition of Bronzes; University of Connecticut at Storrs; and the Museum of Modern Art, Rental Gallery.

DD assesses next career move and applies to Tamarind Lithography Workshop, newly relocated in Albuquerque, and accepts November 16, 1970-January 8, 1971 as attendance dates. Upon advice of cardiologist, she leaves New York for New Mexico a week early to adjust to the altitude. She works at the Institute through the holidays as studios are kept open.

DD reapplies to Yaddo Institute in Saratoga Springs, attends July 21-August 20. Works on drawings, using Hudson River Valley and Upstate New York landscape for subject matter.

DD starts working on wood sculpture, using constructivist technique.

DD completes scholarly essay “Medals for Dishonor: The Fifteen Medallions of David Smith” and concentrates on writing poetry and familiar essays.

DD has major heart surgery, June 7, and undergoes painful recovery. DD’s second husband Ferdinand Mann dies, November 26, of Myocardial Infarction and Coronary Artery Disease in Boston. Father, Samuel Mann, emigrated from Russia (no village or city name) and Mother, Rachel Hecht, was born in NYC. Mann enniched at the Mount Auburn Crematory in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 29. He is survived by his children Irwin Mann and Abigail Mann Thernstrom, grandchildren Melanie and Sam Thernstrom.

DD lends her papers and photograph album to the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, for Microfilming. Upon completion of microfilming, Dehner retains the album without signing a release for reproduction rights.

DD collaborates with Skidmore student Judith McCandless for an Independent Study on Dehner’s life and work, using resources from the Whitney Museum. McCandless becomes a major source for Dehner biographical material, fall term 1974.

DD also meets younger artist Sandra Lerner, who accompanies DD to her openings and to other art exhibitions and galas, becoming another trusted friend and confidante.

Ferdie Mann’s business Modern Classics goes bankrupt; DD has grave financial problems. DD publishes poetry in Tracks: A Journal of Artists’ Writings.

DD undergoes cataract surgery on one eye “only, fearing that if she had both surgeries at once, she might become totally blind.”

Susan Teller Gallery mounts “Dorothy Dehner: A Retrospective of Prints,” April 7-May 2, the first full retrospective of the artist’s printmaking, including engravings made in the 1950s as well as lithographs and serigraphs from her work in the 1970s, principally at the Tamarind Institute and Yaddo.

DD’s sculpture is included in exhibition “Enduring Creativity,” Whitney Museum of American Art.

Twining Gallery hosts 90th Birthday Celebration and Retrospective in honor of Dehner, photographed with 12-foot high fabricated steel sculpture as signature piece.

DD enters into a contract with Martha Lockhart (Stephens-Nodine) in June to write the artist’s biography. MLN goes to Little Rock to see group exhibition which includes Dehner’s work.

DD and MLN complete nine ninety-minute audiotape interviews about Dehner’s life, which include detailed recollections of her relationship with David Smith, by August.

DD dies from fall down the back stairs of her NYC apartment on September 22, 1994. Dehner’s body found the next morning by custodian. Memorial Service held at Art Students League of New York, November 14.