Dorrit Black is considered one of the most important early Australian Modernists. Her beautiful linocuts and geometric oils embody the new.

Dorothea (Dorrit) Foster Black was born 23 December 1891 in Adelaide to Alfred Barham Black and his wife Jessie Howard. Dorrit Black was the first born of four children The Blacks lived a comfortable and privileged life. Alfred black was an engineer and architect and Jessie was an aspiring artist. The Blacks as a family were about as well established as a colonial Australian family could be. Dorrit's grandfather, John Howard Clark became the part-owner and editor of South Australia's first newspaper The Register. Dorrit's father had designed the first residential building in Adelaide to include electric elevators.

Dorrit's uncle had also distinguished himself, first as a banker in England and later as a farmer and journalist in South Australia. Dorrit's aunty, Helen D'Oyly Carte was painted by Walter Sickert.

Being born into this learned and well-connected environment ensured that Dorrit Black would never feel the lack of social status that plagued many artists of the day. Dorrit attended a small private school called the Knightsbridge School. In this all female environment, Dorrit excelled. The school emphasised the importance of art and they found an eager student in Dorrit. 

In 1910 Dorrit Black began studying at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts where she excelled painting watercolour landscapes in a manner similar to H. P. Gill. Indeed Dorrit Black had private watercolour lessons from two of Gill's former pupils. These watercolours indicate the pleasure Dorrit Black drew from painting outdoors. 

In 1911, when Dorrit was nineteen, her father and mother took her on a year long trip to Europe. In between visiting extended family, the Blacks' also spent many many hours in art museums in England, Italy, Switzerland, France, Scotland and Ireland. Inspired by her new surroundings Dorrit sketched and painted many watercolours depicting scenes such as Lake Como  and the gardens of the Villa Serbelloni.

Returning the Adelaide the following year, Dorrit wanted to continue to expand her skills and moved to Sydney in 1915. This move was strange at the time. Melbourne was seen as being the art capital of Australia and was closer to home than Sydney and yet something drove Dorrit to Sydney instead. Her father Alfred was not supportive of the move. Although happy to provide her with refined skills it was always assumed that Dorrit would marry well and settle down. It was Dorrit's brother Geoffrey who supported her financially during this period. 

Nevertheless, Dorrit did move to Sydney and enrolled at the Sydney Art School under Julian Ashton. Oil painting became her favourite medium and her work showed the influence of both Ashton and Elioth Gruner.

By the late 1920s, Dorrit Black 's work demonstrated the late-impressionist style still prevalent at the Sydney Art School (Ashton was not a fan the new-fangled Modernism gaining momentum in Europe. In 1926, a year before Dorrit returned to Europe she was introduced to linocut making by Thea Proctor. This step would prove to be an important stage in Dorrit Black's career development. 

In 1927, Dorrit Black returned to Europe and chose to study at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London for three months. Claude Flight's incredible use of colour and form inspired Dorrit and the three months she spent at the Grosvenor School left a lasting impression. Flight promoted linocuts as a democratic, affordable and expressive medium. The Grosvenor School appeared to be overwhelmingly optimistic in it's attitude to art and the role art could and should play in society.  

In 1928 Dorrit travelled to Paris and enrolled at the Andre Lhote Academy where she was exposed to other schools of Modernism, Cubism in particular. Black's friends Anne Dangar and Grace Crowley had previously attended and strongly encouraged Dorrit through herself into the new schools of Modernism. Shifting her practise towards Cubism, Dorrit Black left Europe and returned to Sydney in 1930 and that same year held an exhibition with the "Group of Seven" (included artists Grace Cossington Smith, Roland Wakelin, Roy de Maistre, Grace Crowley, Frank Weitzel and Enid Cambridge) at the Macquarie Galleries. 

In 1931, Dorrit black opened the short lived but in hindsight, highly important Modern Art Centre on Margaret Street. It was here that Dorrit Black created most of her linocuts. The Modern Art Centre closed its doors in 1933 and the following year Dorrit Black and her then ill mother travelled around Europe before returning to Adelaide in 1935. During this period of her life Dorrit Black began to return to the more traditional mediums of watercolour and oil. 

From 1940 Dorrit Black taught landscape painting at the School of Arts and Crafts. Her spirits were boosted when the National Gallery of South Australia purchased one her most important oils Mirmande 1928 and from then on Dorrit immersed herself in the local arts scene in Adelaide. Not only was Dorrit on the committee of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, she was also invited to become the Vice-Chairman of the South Australian branch of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia.

In 1944 Dorrit Black founded "Group 9" which included artists Horace Trenery and Marjorie Gwynne. As Dorrit Black grew older her interests changed sharply. Raised in a conservative environment, Dorrit joined the Labor Party and even submitted articles to the Advertiser on art and politics. The 1940s was a period of change and growth for Dorrit Black. Not only did her interest in socialism increase, she even wrote poetry about her wavering faith in Christian Science. Dorrit also knew that she was considered unusual for never  having married and this fact also became the subject of her poetry. 

Towards the end of her life Dorrit Black had become more than an accomplished artist to the Australian art world. Dorrit was viewed as a mother figure by many and considered to be on of the most important figures in the development of Australian Modernism. Unfortunately Dorrit's life was cut short when she was involved in a car accident in 1951. Dorrit Black passed away in the Royal Adelaide Hospital and a memorial exhibition was held in her honour in 1952 at the Society of Arts.

In 1975 the Art Gallery of South Australia arranged a touring exhibition of Dorrit Black's work.