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.
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.