Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

No cookbook has ever captured the fragility of the human condition quite like late artist Dorothy Iannone’s A Cookbook. A raw representation of love, sex and beef Wellington

Myffy Rigby


Dorothy Iannone’s cookbook opens with a floor plan. It’s for a “cozy kitchen for you and me and sometimes our friends”. Free surfaces are for flowers, tiles are French and reddish. Every inch of space is given to beauty, to cooking, to love. 

Her attitude to recipes is similar, hidden amongst notes and drawings, almost as an aside. The book, hand-drawn by Iannone in 1969, is a love letter to her muse, the artist Dieter Roth. Erotic, heartbreakingly truthful, painfully self-aware. A completely visceral experience, saturated in wild, bright colour. 

Recipes for barbecued spare ribs, lamb curry and Chinese duck are accompanied by notes such as “my ace in the hole: I can always frighten him by resolving to becoming a better artist than he. So what if it’s not possible”, and “shit is hard to forget”. A recipe for gorgonzola dip, lifted from the New York Times Cookbook, has this small scrawl above it: “falling in love opens one up. Other men become more desirable.” 

It gives the reader a sense of seeing or knowing too much about the artist. It’s almost an off-putting level of candour. But then, that’s what makes it beautiful, and that’s what makes it hurt. Beef stock (“still, for driving men mad, there’s nothing like the right smell at the right time”), gazpacho (“I don’t like to be sad – half the time I am”), liver dumplings in soup (“I never had a headache until I was psychoanalysed/is pain liberating”) are kind of like little life notes (“it’s thinking I’m a queen that’s going to be the end of me”) that tug at the inside gooey bits. (“Infidelity breaks the ice”).

Over her 60-year career, Iannone worked in a broad range of mediums. She painted, drew, collaged, journalled, made comics, sculpture, objects and books, wooing the onlooker with a loving celebration of the human form. Eastern philosophy, psychedelia and erotic love collide in her work. Strong lines, saturated colour, intricate patterns. The tarot, Egyptian mythology, tantra, folklore and the teachings of Zen Buddhism are all strong reference points.      


Her early 70s ‘Eros’ series, includes works with titles such as I Have Got Such A Marvelous Cock; Suck My Breasts, I Am Your Beautiful Mother, and Wiggle Your Ass For Me – a work that depicts a naked man bending over with a huge erection, displaying his arsehole, as a naked woman with swollen hairy pudenda rests her hand on his bum. Let Me Squeeze Your Fat Cunt shows a woman supporting the figure of an erect man leaning over her as she squeezes his erection. The words ‘Let me squeeze your fat cunt/am I your first woman’ are scrawled across her belly.     


This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Swill. Want more? Order issue 5 today 

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