Collection Artwork
Dorothy Dehner (Cleveland, Ohio, 1901 – 1994, New York, New York)
Improvisation on the Love Theme
c. 1940
gouache on paper
11 3/8 x 15 1/2 in.
frame size: 13 3/8 x 15 1/4 x 1 1/2 in.
Gift of the Dorothy Dehner Foundation for the Visual Arts
Signed, lower center of image: Dorothy Dehner
Inscribed in pencil, lower right corner of paper: Improvisation on / the love theme.
Inscribed in pencil, corner marks outside each of four corners of image

Object Label

Improvisation on the Love Theme combines motifs of nature and sexuality with narratives of ritualistic displays of love and intimacy between man, woman, and child. Fish and plants, both symbolizing fertility, recur throughout the work. This is not necessarily the artist’s experience with love—Dorothy Dehner never had a child and had a strained relationship with her husband—but rather an “improvisation” based on existing tropes about love and motherhood.
–Caroline Coxe ’20

From the exhibition: Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality (May 30 – August 23, 2020)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
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