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Dorothy Hood (American, 1918-2000)



Dorothy Hood was an abstract surrealist painter whose work spanned the gap between the synthetic surrealism movement and the American Color Field School, she considered herself a “pioneer modernist.” A native Texan, she would spend most of her life in the American Southwest and Mexico (except for educational stops at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Students League of New York). 

While Hood’s education started in the 1930s, it would be years until her work was recognized by the art community. A chance vacation in Mexico led to Hood working and living there for almost two decades, where she befriended a large ex-pat artist community. She stayed with Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera while developing her art. An exhibition at The Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston gave Hood the widespread artistic acclaim that would flower and grow up until her death in 2000. 

What type of art does Dorothy Hood create?

Dorothy Hood was an abstract surrealist painter. Her modernist paintings are highly detailed pieces with evocative imagery that play with primal desires and feelings that linked the synthetic surrealist movement to the American Color Field School -- though her work is unique and skirts being classified as either. Much of her work was inspired by Taoism and space exploration.

How often do Dorothy Hood paintings come up for auction?

Hood’s work has been in demand since the 1970s when she rose to prominence while working in Houston, Texas. That said, there isn’t as large of a history for Hood’s paintings at auction in comparison to others from the same time period. As of 2019, there were only 57 instances of her work up for auction. Potential collectors would be wise to at least give a long look at any Hood painting that comes up. 

How much is a Dorothy Hood painting worth?

Dorothy Hood’s paintings are typically worth a few thousand dollars, which can trend up into the tens of thousands for her major work. Her oil on canvas paintings tend to do the best at auction, which is understandable -- they exhibit many of the classic Southwest aesthetics that have made Hood’s work popular since the 1970s. 

Which Dorothy Hood painting is the most valuable? 

The highest price ever paid for a Dorothy Hood painting was $32,270 for the work, GENIE (unknown). It was sold on 5/18/2019 and represents a larger trend of a resurgence in the popularity of Hood’s work. The piece exhibits many of Hood’s major themes, stark differences in color, beautiful grey/blues, and non-narrative, natural movement. 

What are the most famous paintings by Dorothy Hood? 

Beyond GENIE, Hood is best known for her “landscapes of my psyche” a term that Hood coined to describe the surrealist landscapes that many of her paintings try to capture. Many of her paintings are inspired by deep space and, oddly, the work of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some of these include Perceptors, The Interrupted Orbit, and Abstract (all dates unknown). 

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