Adolf Dehn (1895 - 1968)
A preeminent American lithographer, Adolf Dehn was born in Waterville, Minnesota. He began his studies at the Minneapolis Art Institute and later at the Art Students League, New York City where he met both Boardman Robinson and George Miller. Robinson helped Dehn to publish his drawings in The Masses, while Miller, a master printer, helped his young apprentice master the art of lithography. From 1921 to 1929, Dehn lived in Europe, working in Berlin, Vienna, and Paris until he returned to America in 1930. He established a studio in New York and, for the next decade produced both satirical and landscape images. In 1941, he taught printmaking technique at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In 1961, he became an Academician at the National Academy of Design. His work is held by many of the world's leading institutions. He died in New York City.
We Speak English
Lithograph, Chine-collé on Japan paper mounted to cream wove paper, 1927; trial proof outside stated edition of 30. Printed by Edmond Desjobert, Paris. Image size 10-7/8" x 14-3/8"; sheet size 13-5/8" x 18-7/8". A wry portrayal of the streetwalkers of Montmartre.
In 1927, Dehn was experimenting with lithographic techniques, and a singular breakthrough occurred when he effaced an unsatisfactory image from the stone, leaving a somewhat dark, uniform tone behind. As he recalled, "...I worked into it somewhat with a razor blade, scraping out to lighten and even to get whites, and then I used black crayon over this. I think I learned more in lithography from that stone than [from] anything I ever did." Though skeptical of a favorable result, Edmond Desjobert printed the stone and to everyone's delight the result was highly successful, and the technique became a mainstay of Dehn's work.
A group of thirty-four of Dehn's Paris lithographs, including We Speak English, was exhibited at the Weyhe Gallery in New York beginning on February 25, 1929 and received uniformly high acclaim from the critics. The exhibition is credited with marking his turning point from struggling to highly successful artist.
Annotated "Trial Proof", titled, signed and dated 1927 by the artist. On the reverse a pencil notation in the artist's hand "weyhe 2/6/29" suggests that this proof is likely to have been the impression displayed at the Wehye exhibition. Fine overall condition. A closed tear previously mended with tape on the reverse side extends about 1" from the edge of the mount, well away from the image.
Lithograph, 1946. Edition of 250 published by Associated American Artists, New York. Image size 13" x 8-7/8" with full margins.Signed by the artist in lower RH corner. A fine impression, mounted and matted using archival materials.
Lithograph, 1942. Edition of 250, published by Associated American Artists, New York. Image size 13" x 8-7/8" with full margins, signed by the artist in lower RH corner. A fine impression with faint, uniform toning. Mounted and matted using archival materials.