Adolf Arthur Dehn, American (1895 - 1968)

Adolf Arthur DehnAdolf Arthur Dehn

One of America's leading lithographers of the twentieth century, Adolf Dehn first studied at the Minneapolis Art Institute. His education was thwarted for several years during the First World War when he became a conscientious objector. One year after the war ended (1919) Dehn received a scholarship to resume his studies at the Art Students League, New York. There he met the influential artist, Boardman Robinson (1876-1952), who helped to publish Dehn's drawings for the leftist newspaper, The Masses. Robinson also introduced the young artist to the master printer, George Miller, and Dehn created his first lithographs under his direction in 1920.

In 1921 Adolf Dehn set off for Europe in order, he stated, "to starve more elegantly." He remained there until 1929, living and working in Berlin, Vienna and Paris. During this period he supported himself almost entirely with his lithographic art, many of which were very satirical in nature. Dehn returned to New York in 1930 and set up his studio there. During the decade of the Great Depression he became famous both for his satirical and landscape lithographs. Beginning in 1941 Adolf Dehn taught lithographic and printmaking techniques at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center. He was elected a full Academician of the prestigious National Academy of Design in 1961, the year he created Big Rock. Today the lithographs of Adolf Dehn are included in many of the world's leading institutions, including the British Museum, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Dehn spent the years 1920 to 1929 in art-related travel in Europe, primarily in Vienna and in Paris, where he made lithographs at the Atelier Desjobert. Throughout this time, Dehn exhibited his work at the Weyhe Gallery in New York and contributed drawings both to magazines abroad and to the radical journal The Masses.

Upon his return to New York in 1929, he became a leading figure in printmaking circles, exhibiting his prints to considerable critical acclaim. In 1937, Dehn had worked exclusively in black and white until 1937—halfway through his career—when he began to work in watercolor. During his summer visits to Minnesota, he created a large body of regional watercolors depicting the lakes and farms of his home state. Lithography and watercolor remained his two primary media, and his subjects ranged from social satire to naturalistic landscapes.

He authored the treatise, Water Color Painting, in 1945 and two other instructional books on lithography and watercolor in 1950 and 1955. From 1938 to 1939 he taught at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and during the summers of 1940-1942 he taught at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

In 1939 and 1951 Dehn received Guggenheim Fellowships, and 1961 he was elected Full Academician to the National Academy of Design.

Dehn exhibited throughout his career, and his works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the British Museum, among others.

Adolf Dehn died in New York in 1968.

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