Dorothy Iannone

Wiggle Your Ass for Me


Not on display

Dorothy Iannone born 1933
Acrylic paint on canvas, mounted on canvas
Support: 1904 × 1500 mm
Purchased using funds provided by the 2017 Frieze Tate Fund supported by WME | IMG 2018


Dorothy Iannone was born in Boston, America in 1933 and studied literature before becoming an artist. She is best known for creating exuberant images of sexual moments between couples using a visual language that draws upon the decorative arts, pop art and folkloric traditions. From 1967 to 1974 she lived in various parts of Europe with her partner, the artist Dieter Roth, who she often depicted in her work.
This is one of the last available works from the ‘Eros’ series, which is considered to be an important period in Iannone’s career. The series consists of ten paintings. Iannone’s work can be found in the collections of Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok) Vienna; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Wiggle Your Ass for Me 1970 is a painting in acrylic paint on canvas that depicts the sexual interplay between a naked man and woman on what could be a bed or an abstract backdrop. Only the lower half of the man’s body is visible as he stands on one leg to show his bottom raised in the air. On his right sits the woman, in a frontal pose, placing her right hand below the man’s anus. The words ‘WIGGLE YOUR ASS FOR ME’ are inscribed on her torso, giving the painting its title, making reference to the man’s posture and, potentially, issuing a direction for the viewer to follow.

Iannone has restricted her colour scheme to red, blue, green, gold and black, with white used around the edges of the work and on the body of the woman, and peach for her genitals and the entire body of the man. Her interest in decoration and Byzantine mosaic can be found in the mixture of colours and shapes present in the background, which extend onto the hair of the woman and adorn the bands that are worn around the limbs of the two figures. Each form has been carefully delineated in Iannone’s characteristic black outline that was described in 1967 as a ‘Kama Sutra-Hindu-Love-Pop style’ (Lil Picard, ‘Up from the Pushcart Art’, East Village Other, May 1967, p.14, republished in Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst 2014, unpaginated).

This image is painted on canvas that has been cut out and mounted onto another white-painted canvas. The artist has confirmed that this application was carried out in 1970 and was done by the artist Dieter Roth (1930–1998), who was her partner at the time, and his student Jan Voss (born 1936), in her studio in Düsseldorf. Placing this carefully delineated scene upon a plain background emphasised Iannone’s graphic cartoon style and reflected the influence of Japanese woodcuts on her work. The artist has also connected it to her series of small-scale cut-outs, stating: ‘   I don’t know why I wanted them presented this way. Perhaps because I was used to making cut-outs and I somehow carried over that technique, one way or another, into my new work.’ (In email correspondence with Tate curator Fiontán Moran via Air de Paris, October 2017.)

Wiggle Your Ass for Me forms a part of Iannone’s ‘Eros’ series, which consists of ten paintings that were created between 1968 and 1971. The other paintings in the series include: I Begin to Feel Free 1970 (collection of the artist); Look at Me 1970–1 (Air de Paris); Your Names Are Love Father God 1970–1 and Let Me Squeeze Your Fat Cunt 1970 (both Sammlung Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich); and five other paintings that are in private collections in Greece, Italy and Germany. The series is characterised by the fusing of text, painting and decoration to depict the sexual excitement that she experienced in her relationship with Roth. Giving visual form to the intimate, playful and performative experience of sexual interaction, by drawing attention to the bottom of her male lover, Iannone also transfers the phallic dominance often associated with depictions of heterosexual love to a more sensual understanding of the body and desire. Curator Oliver Koerner von Gustorf has noted that through the representation of an unabashed sexual expression, Iannone’s Eros paintings move beyond a place of voyeurism and singularity to one of positive inclusion in a broader context: ‘   While Iannone often directs her conversations in her works to the real or idealized beloved, she is also concerned with the true and universal language that is addressed to any beholder who wants to share her experiences without reservations.’ (In Sprengel Museum 2005, p.204.)

Further reading
Oliver Koerner von Gustorf, ‘I was Thinking of You; Notes on Dorothy Iannone’, translated by Andrea Lerner, in Dieter Roth & Dorothy Iannone, exhibition catalogue, Sprengel Museum, Hannover 2005, pp.197–205.
Heike Munder (ed.), Dorothy Iannone: Censorship and the Irrepressible Drive toward Love and Divinity, exhibition catalogue, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich 2014.
Michael Glasmeier, ‘Languages of Love’, in Dorothy Iannone, This Sweetness Outside of Time: A Retrospective of Paintings, Objects, Books, and Films from 1959 to 2014, exhibition catalogue, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 2014, pp.126–43.

Fiontán Moran
October 2017

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