Adolf Dehn


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Painter and printmaker. Originally a satirical realist, he later produced benign landscapes and industrial scenes. A farm boy from Waterville, Minnesota, Adolf Arthur Dehn began his professional training at the Minneapolis School of Art (now Minneapolis College of Art and Design) between 1914 and 1917. Attracted by the radical politics of The Masses, he arrived in New York shortly before the magazine ceased publication in 1918. However, he soon contributed to the newly founded Liberator, where his satirical drawings fit comfortably with the magazine's left-wing social philosophy. He also worked at the Art Students League with Boardman Robinson and Kenneth Hayes Miller and was jailed as a conscientious objector during World War I. Throughout the twenties, he produced amusing drawings and watercolors poking fun at the foibles of contemporary society. Oddly, as social realism became a major force within the American Scene movement in the 1930s, Dehn gradually turned away from such commentary. His lithograph Central Park, done in the 1930s for a federal art project, presents a pleasantly romantic view, while the watercolor Hay Meadows (Terra Foundation for American Art, 1938) straightforwardly depicts a rural scene. Among numerous commercial commissions, in 1943 he painted Standard Oil's Baton Rouge refinery with noncommittal realism. Occasionally, he incorporated surrealist effects. Dehn lived in Europe, mostly in Vienna, through much of the 1920s and later continued extensive travels abroad. He died in New York. He published Water Color Painting (1945), How To Draw and Print Lithographs (1950), and Water Color, Gouache, and Casein Painting (1955). His widow, painter and printmaker Virginia Engleman Dehn (1922–2005), moved permanently to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1985. Born in Nevada, Missouri, she grew up in Hamden, Connecticut, near New Haven. After graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, she trained at the Art Students League. She interpreted natural themes in nearly abstract forms.

Subjects: Art.

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