Spider Web with Clover and Grass, 2004

Oil on linen, 50 x 58 in.

Lois Dodd A’48

Lois Dodd, who graduated from Cooper’s School of Art in 1948, could never be called unobservant. Her paintings are close studies of the odd moment: a distant tree seen through a window, the corner of a shingled porch, a bit of laundry. Dodd, who grew up in Montclair, NJ, is most interested in capturing the light of these unexpected scenes. She works en plein air often on sheets of aluminum that give an underlying luminosity to these spontaneous tableaux.  Early in her career, Dodd and a group of other artists made a play for control of their work by forming the Tanager Gallery, a groundbreaking artist-run gallery that influenced other artists to do the same. Like her contemporaries Alex Katz and Fairfield Porter, she began exploring the coast of Maine as a subject for her work. She still lives part of the year there and the New England landscape, both natural and built, are essential to her oeuvre. Those periods in Maine also led Dodd and some of her cohort to explore figurative painting in a time when abstract expressionism had taken command of the art world.

In 2013, Roberta Smith wrote, “Ms. Dodd loves the observed world, the vagaries of nature and the specificities of old Maine houses: the way they cleave to the ground, or fill a picture frame, or shine, lights on or off, in the moonlight. She always searches out the underlying geometry but also the underlying life, and the sheer strangeness of it all.”

Dodd received the Cooper Union Presidential Citation in 1987 and the Augustus St. Gaudens Medal in 2005. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy, Dodd has work in the collections of the Colby College Museum, Cooper Union Museum, the Farnsworth Museum, and the National Academy of Design.

Since 1954, her work has been the subject of over fifty one-person exhibitions. On April 2, a survey of her entire career begins at The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, entitled Lois Dodd: Natural Order. The show runs until May 28.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.