Dorothy Dehner



Artist: Dehner, Dorothy                

Title/Date:  Lunar Series #4, 1978

Description of the work:

The lithography Lunar Series #4 uses an exclusively monochromatic pallet with rectangles, oval and circular shapes. There are at least three different values throughout the shapes and forms. In order to distinguish the shapes from the background, the figures use a lighter value than the background. On the recto side of the composition is an almost perfect circle which lies atop a black rectangle and takes two-third of the composition, whereas the remaining space on the left is occupied by an elongated rectangle with an oval shape in the center.

Most of the circular image on the right utilizes a lighter tone of grey except for the bottom recto corner over a black rectangle. The use of color allows the viewer to associate the shape with the moon. The verso side of the composition contains a similar object, however is drastically condensed. The figure is more of an oval shape and is split into two halves dark gray and white whereas the elongated background is divided into light gray and black. Closer inspection reveals a cross hatch-like texture that throughout the work and is most likely caused by the texture of the paper and the direction of the lines. The circle and the oval shapes resemble different shapes of the moon which is going through either its waning or waxing stages.

Artist’s Biography:

Dorothy Dehner is an American artist born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1901. In 1915, she moved to California to study modern dance and in 1922, she tried to become an actress. She then moved to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. It was after a trip to Europe that Dehner became interested in the plastic arts, particularly in sculpture. Inspired by the works Picasso and Matisse, Dehner perused her career in the arts. After returning to New York, Dehner enrolled in the Art Students League where she turned to painting in a modern style. Her work became inspired by cubist and abstract styles of art which were reflected in her art.

Then during 1940, Dehner married fellow artist David Smith and moved with him to Bolton Landing, outside of New York City. Though her art became subordinate to her duties as a wife, Dehner continued producing work. In 1950, she had her first solo exhibition at Skidmore College where she featured her ink drawings. Shortly after, in 1952, Dehner began focusing on three-dimensional forms and created many sculpture during the 1950s and 60s. Her work involves the use of wood and bronze and creates abstract towering forms with jagged edges which reflect her inspiration from the cubist movement. Divorced from her husband, Dehner focused solely on her artistic career and had at least 50 solo exhibitions from 1952 to her death in 1994.


Signed: Dorothy Dehner 70, Lower recto corner and the tittle Lunar Series 4 is accompanied by V/V

Date and dimension: 1971; 19 ½” x 24” edition 5/5

Medium: Lithograph

Accession # and Acquisition Date: 1985.01.09 Date: 1985           

Condition: Matted,Good, slight fading of signature

Provenance and Exhibitions:

Framed or Flat: Framed

Current location: This piece is part of the University Art Gallery permanent collection at New Mexico State University.


-The Phillips Collection webpage: accessed by 19 October 2016

-The National Gallery of Art webpage: accessed 19 October 2016

-The British Museum of Art webpage: accessed 19 October 2016.

Reproductions: N/A

Researched By: Jesus Zubia, 19 October 2016