Calabi Gallery

Featuring an Eclectic Array of Primarily 20th Century Artwork

Dorr Bothwell

Dorr Bothwell (San Francisco, CA. May 3, 1902 – September 24, 2000)


1000 Palms, Oasis, CA by Dorr Bothwell, Circa 1955

Bothwell, Keepsake from PanamaKeepsake from Panama by Dorr Bothwell, 1949, Oil on Canvas, 21 x 30-3/4 – SOLD to LACMA

Bothwell, Spanish KeepsakeSpanish Keepsake by Dorr Bothwell, 1950, Oil on Canvas, 18-1/8 x 25-1/2 – SOLD

Bothwell, Keepsake from ParisKeepsake from Paris (Windows at Night) by Dorr Bothwell, 1951, Oil on Canvas, 18-1/8 x 21-5/8 – SOLD

Recollection by Dorr Bothwell, 1951 – SOLD

Abstraction by Dorr Bothwell, 1951, Ink & Watercolor – SOLD

Ideograph by Dorr Bothwell, 1946 – SOLD

Desert WashDesert Wash by Dorr Bothwell, 1955 – SOLD


Doris Hodgson Bothwell was born in San Francisco on May 3, 1902. She moved to San Diego in 1911 where her neighbors Anna and Albert Valentien first sparked her interest in art. In 1921 Bothwell returned to San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Arts, where she worked with professors Rudolf Schaeffer and Gottardo Piazzoni. She continued her education at the Schaeffer School of Design, and at the University of Oregon. In 1925 she opened the Modern Gallery in San Francisco, with eight other artists.

From 1926-33 Bothwell spent her years painting, teaching, and traveling throughout the world. During the 1930s she was briefly married to sculptor and friend Donal Hord. After their separation, she moved to Los Angeles in 1934 where she worked with Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg in post-surrealist imagery and participation in the mural division of the Federal Arts Project. In 1935 she opened the Bothwell-Cooke Gallery in Los Angeles.

After returning to San Francisco in 1942, Bothwell introduced serigraphy into her painting and teaching. Bothwell taught at the San Francisco Art Institute for many years where she focused closely on theories of color. She taught as an instructor of design at the CSFA from 1944-48 and 1953-58, Parsons School Design in New York in 1952, after which she further studied in Paris. She returned to the states and taught at the SFAI from 1959-61, Mendocino Art Center from 1961-97, and Ansel Adams Photography Workshop in Yosemite National Park from 1964-78. Artists Robert Hudson, William T. Wiley, and Carlos Villa all studied under Bothwell.

In 1968 Bothwell and Marlys Mayfield co-wrote the book Notan: The Principle of Light and Dark Design, which encompasses the principles developed in her teaching. The book contrasts the interaction of positive and negative space in design, has been translated into many languages, and is still widely used today.

Throughout her persistent exploration of new styles and themes, Bothwell became a modernist and symbolist painter, her preferred media oils and acrylics. She also worked with watercolor, sculpture, collage, and assemblage, as well as pioneering serigraphy as a fine art medium on the West Coast. Bothwell’s earlier more surreal and abstract works reveal her extensive traveling, living and working in the 1920s with a tribe in Samoa. While her love of the US Pacific Northwest is reflected in her later, more naturalistic paintings and prints.

Bothwell received many honors throughout her lifetime, including the Abraham Rosenberg Fellowship, San Francisco Women in the Arts Award in 1979, and two Pollock-Krasner Awards in 1998-2000. She was a member of the San Diego Art Guild, the San Francisco Art Association, a charter member of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists.

Bothwell actively produced artwork until 2000, when she died in Fort Bragg on September 24. Her art can be found in collections of museums throughout the world, and the Annex Galleries represents the artist’s prints for her estate.

– From the Annex Galleries & Toby Moss Gallery

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