Dorothy Iannone is a Berlin-based artist whose works focus on eroticism and the female sexual experience. Inspired by Egyptian frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, and ancient fertility statues, Iannone depicts the act of lovemaking not as an act of taboo, but rather as an act of spiritual union and transcendence. While now commonly lauded as transgressive and radical, her work, which often portrays her love affair with the late artist Dieter Roth, has been subject to frequent censorship since the 1960s. Iannone and Roth began creating work side-by-side after Iannone moved to Europe in 1967, and the two artists influenced each other’s works greatly for almost a decade. Overlooked for much of her career, Iannone’s magnetic and highly influential work finally began to receive widespread recognition in the late 2000s.
For the High Line, Iannone created a new, large-scale mural installation featuring three colorful Statues of Liberty. Between them runs the words, “I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door,” which is the final line from Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus, the ode to the freedom promised by immigration to America engraved on a bronze plaque mounted inside the statue at Liberty Island. Iannone’s piece was conceived before the recent months of upheaval in the United States around immigration, an already contested topic; these recent debates have raised the Statue of Liberty anew as a symbol of the openness of New York City and the United States to those seeking asylum, freedom, or simply a better life. Iannone’s vibrant Liberties bring a bit of joy to an often exhausting and demoralizing political debate.
Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door Will Be On Display on the High Line at 22nd Street Through March 2019.