Known primarily for her explicit and often controversial works, self-taught artist Dorothy Iannone depicts intimate sexual acts in a bold, colorful style influenced by folk art, Byzantine mosaics, and Indian erotic paintings. While she typically creates paintings in acrylic, Iannone has also worked with sculpture, video, and works on paper, including several artist's books. Her book An Iceland Saga documents her first encounters with her muse and former partner, the German artist Dieter Roth, in the style of a Norse myth. Though many of her works border on the pornographic, Iannone treats sexual acts as a form of spiritual union, claiming, "it was the drive toward ecstatic unity that inspired me." In addition to her artistic achievements, Iannone is known for her crusade against censorship: in 1961, she famously filed a lawsuit against the United States government after US Customs confiscated her copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. The suit was successful and the ban on Miller's books was lifted.
Iannone's work has been exhibited in solo shows at institutions including the New Museum (2009), Kunsthalle Wien (2006), and Kunst-Werke in Berlin (1992) and in group shows such as Seductive Subversion: Contemporary Women Artists 1958—1968 at the Brooklyn Museum (2010), Bodypoliticx at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2007), and the 2006 Whitney Biennial.