Happy Birthday, Lois Dodd!

Today, 22 April, is American artist Lois Dodd's 96th birthday. With a career spanning over 50 years, and over 50 solo exhibitions, Dodd's painting clearly connects with a broad art-loving audience.
To mark this special day, Lund Humphries Managing Director Lucy Myers reflects on the great success of Faye Hirsch's monograph on Lois Dodd for the Contemporary Painters series, edited by Barry Schwabsky. 

Lois Dodd on the panel of ‘Rewriting Painting’, Cooper Union, 19 April 2018, which launched the Lund Humphries Contemporary Painters Series. Photograph courtesy of The Cooper Union, photo by Marget Long.

Happy Birthday, Lois Dodd

The selection of painters for our new Contemporary Painters series in 2016 was informed by lists. The series longlist was a collation of suggestions from our advisory board, who had each been asked to propose painters for the series. It was then whittled down to a shortlist of our top names, each given a Lund Humphries score which was intended to indicate its commercial potential.

Lois Dodd scored 8.5 out of 10. A book on her work had been proposed by two advisory- board members, which must have helped. ‘Popular female American “people's” artist with long career. No monograph’, say the notes. There’s a reference to The Wall Street Journal, which had described her as ‘A quiet heroine of stick-to-your-guns, painterly painting’.

It was a risky choice. Lois Dodd, then 89, was at that time virtually unknown outside of the East Coast of the US. She had no gallery representation outside the US, and her New York gallery was a small, independent business. Her work was scattered across the collections of a few art museums in New York and Maine.

But from the beginning, Lois Dodd’s paintings resonated with the book’s readers. Her subjects were particular landscapes in New York and Maine, actual windows, doors and roofs, but they had a universality which transcended their specific location. I noticed customers being drawn to the book from its cover image, a detail of Morning Corner 1983 with its intriguing small window. The book is now in its third printing, defying the odds.

Exhibition view of Lois Dodd, July-August 2019, Modern Art gallery, London. Photo: Lucy Myers. See https://modernart.net/exhibitions/lois-dodd for more. 

Since 2016, Dodd’s star has also been on the ascendant, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that this has coincided with a broader movement to tell the stories of previously neglected women painters. In 2019, a first solo exhibition of her work was held at Modern Art gallery in London. On 2 April 2023, a major retrospective opened at the Bruce Museum Connecticut, and another retrospective is planned for 2024 at the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands.

‘Dodd’s is an art that refrains from calling attention to itself, and perhaps for this reason has not often enough receive the close attention it deserves. It is gratifying that, as the artist enters her tenth decade, it continues to flower and draw new admirers’, wrote Barry Schwabsky in his Foreword to the book. Lois Dodd turns 96 on 22 April. Happy Birthday to an extraordinary artist whose work continues to speak to us.

Lucy Myers
Lund Humphries Managing Director
April 2023