While Lois Dodd’s over 70-year-long career runs parallel to many major artistic movements, most notably abstract expressionism and pop art, her dedication to pursuing her own vision has consistently defied categorisation. Dodd rejected the sources that others of her generation took as a given: mass media, popular culture, and the bright surfaces of a comfortable life. She is primarily known for her observational paintings of landscapes, nudes, and still lives. “I would find it, see it, and say ‘that’s exciting’ but I don’t want to set things up.”
There is nothing glitzy about the work, neither in its subject matter nor in her use of materials. She does not celebrate excess, ownership, or leisure, nor does she condemn it. Whether or not she intends her refusals to be a comment on the work of those around her, her paintings embody an implicit critique of those who believe acquisitiveness, possession, and leisure are integral to the pursuit of happiness.
Most people use 5x7 inches (13x18 cm) sheets of aluminum as a refuge against the outdoor — they help keep a roof watertight. Not Lois Dodd, who still carries them into the landscape of Maine to paint en plein air, as she has for decades, part poet and part reporter. Flashing, the material’s name, also tidily summarises her process: Dodd paints quickly with oils with small brushes, wet into wet, finishing each little gem in one session.
She is known for the careful simplicity of her paintings, that illustrate her attentiveness to, and appreciation for, the scenes she encounters in her immediate environment. Windows, flowers, gardens, and clotheslines are of a particular fascination to Dodd, and she is celebrated for her ability to capture the complexity of these everyday subjects.
“I’m painting this window, and the glass was there and behind that was the curtain. So it was like painting the whole thing in reverse. Then, as I was standing there, I could see the reflection of the barn, and then a cloud came drifting over so that was just perfect. All these little things that would change it. There is still a possibility of something moving, even though it did look static. So I like that, too. I enjoy being out there and something occurs in this very quiet way. Nothing is fixed. It’s always changing, even while you’re working.”
Dodd is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. In 2012 to 2013, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, organised a travelling retrospective of Dodd’s paintings, which was accompanied by the book Catching the Light. In 2017 Lund Humphries published a stand alone monograph of her work as part of their new Contemporary Artist series. Philipp Haverkampf is pleased to announce the first presentation of her small sized paintings in the Gallery in Berlin. At the age of 92 Dodd is still painting and lives and works in Main, Delaware Water Gap and New York City.