Dorothy Dehner


Dorothy Dehner (1901–1994) was an American multi-disciplinary artist notable for her impressive career especially between the end of World War II and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968).  For many years Dehner has been completely eclipsed by her ex-husband, the renowned sculptor David Smith. 

Dehner began studying art in 1925 and married Smith in 1927. During the depression income from Dehner's family sustained the couple and enabled Smith to continue to focus on art-making despite the economic hardships of the era.

Although Dehner passionately pursued artmaking, her career ambitions always took a back seat to those of her husband, who could be demanding and domineering at times.  Because of domestic violence, amongst other reasons, Dehner divorced in 1951. This emancipation accelerated her focus on art-making, studying printmaking at Atelier 17 (where she met Louise Nevelson) and teaching at Barnard College, among other schools.

While Dehner’s artworks are often abstract, they consistently refer to the world.

Like the artists of the New York School, the generation of which she is a member, Dehner’s art acknowledges that abstract symbols can communicate content that is private but posses universal implications.

This impressive abstract watercolor represents an iconography that recurs over the decades in Dehner's work both in three-dimensions or two. Wedges, nails, and arcs abound, creating a mysterious energy.

From 1948 to her death in 1994, Dehner had more than 50 solo exhibitions of her work in addition to creating numerous public commissions for organizations including the New York Medical College, Rockefeller Center, and the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation.

Her work can be found in the permanent collection of many institutions including the MoMA, among others.

Caviar20 has a particular interest in sculptors working in two-dimensions. As Dehner has been overlooked for many years, we hope to offer more works by this incredible (woman) artist in the future. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

“Untitled”, USA

Watercolor and ink on paper, double-sided

Signed and dated in ink on the lower right recto 

25.2"H 38.2"W (work)

Very good condition

Detailed condition report by request 

This work is sold unframed, but can be framed as pictured 

Note: last two images are of the work verso  

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