Dorothy Iannone: You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends

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Iannone’s image–text works celebrate a joyful sexuality and spirituality

For over five decades, Dorothy Iannone has been making exuberantly sexual and joyfully transgressive image–text works. Karen Rosenberg wrote of her in The New York Times: “High priestess, matriarch, sex goddess: the self-taught American artist Dorothy Iannone has been called all these things and more. Since the early 1960s she has been making paintings, sculptures and artist’s books that advocate ‘ecstatic unity,’ most often achieved through lovemaking.” Beginning with the famous “An Icelandic Saga,” in which Iannone narrates her journey to Iceland (where she meets Dieter Roth and leaves her husband to live with him), this singular volume traces Iannone’s search for “ecstatic unity” from its carnal beginnings in her relationships with Roth and other men into its spiritual incarnation as she becomes a practicing Buddhist. Reproducing several previously unpublished or long-out-of-print works in their entirety (such as Danger in Düsseldorf, The Whip, “An Explosive Interlude”), as well as longer excerpts from rarely-seen works like A Cookbook and Berlin Beauties, this volume gives readers the chance to read her work with sustained attention, and enjoy the sophistication of the stories she tells and the visual–textual embellishments that make them so irresistible.

Associated with Fluxus through her close friendships with Emmett Williams, Robert Filliou and Ben Vautier, as well as most well-known for her relationship with Dieter Roth, Dorothy Iannone (born 1933) nevertheless has her own distinct aesthetic style and substantive concerns. Her first major museum show in the U.S. came when she was 75 in 2008 at the New Museum, shortly after her “orgasm box” titled “I Was Thinking of You” was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2006, and she has recently attained more recognition with solo shows at the Camden Arts Centre, Palais de Tokyo and the Berlinischer Galerie.

Featured image is reproduced from Dorothy Iannone: You Who Read Me With Passion Must Forever Be My Friends.


Flash Art

Karen Archey

"Grande dame," "sex," "Dieter Roth," "femininity," "proximity," "censored," "folkloric": these are but a handful of platitudinous words that often describe American Dorothy Isnnone's decade-long practice.


For Iannone, it is precisely the subjective, biographical and narrative approach to her practice that continues to be so revelational.


The Improbable

Kate Eelman

You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends is a unique, exhilarating work of nonfiction told through bold art and raw language. The eroticism in Iannone’s work is expressed not just in her daring and beautiful sexual images, but also in the risks she takes. Iannone reveals herself entirely, allowing the reader to see the artist exposed. This creates a thrilling and intimate relationship: her narrative is told in a voice so rare in its honesty, it's tantric. Indulging in You Who Read Me... is to be immersed fully in Iannone’s story. It’s an extremely active mode of reading, wherein the reader is so highly involved—sometimes scouring for words within images—that the story becomes the reader’s own. In this way, Iannone’s bravery is contagious: the reader takes a solo journey and finds unity with and peace from a narrative full of heart and color.


Sarah Nicole Prickett

Iannone was always a little too silly to be contemporary and too sybaritic to be feminist, yet her gaze stays proudly female, secure enough to be benevolent, even godlike.

Bomb Magazine

Christine Wertheim

In a landscape dominated by "concepts," and the idea that femininity is reduced to an object when depicted iconically, Iannone's work has for decades been either censored or ignored. Perhaps at last we can overcome these limitations, and revel in the glory that (still) is Dorothy.