Dorothy Dehner, a gifted sculptor of Surrealist and geometric abstractions in bronze and wood, whose professional career began in the 1950's after a stormy marriage to David Smith, the New York School artist, was found dead yesterday in a stairwell outside her apartment in Manhattan. She was 92.

Her dealer, Susan Teller, said yesterday that the cause of death had not yet been determined.

Last year, on the occasion of a retrospective of Ms. Dehner's work that toured the United States, Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times that her "initial pieces owe something to Smith's rangy, attenuated style, but have a Surrealist lyricism very much their own." He added, "It was a style Ms. Dehner would continue to refine and simplify as she began working in wood."

Ms. Dehner was born in Cleveland in 1901. She studied painting with three of her aunts, amateur artists, and dance with a former member of the experimental Denishawn company. Her parents and only sister died by the time she was 18, losses that depressed her for years, and she then decided on a career in the theater in New York City.

There, working Off Broadway and taking classes at the Art Students League, she met painters like John Graham, Stuart Davis and Arshile Gorky, who were pioneering abstraction in America when it was still disparaged here for being too European. She also met a young, prickly and ambitious sculptor, David Smith. They married in 1927.

At first they lived in Brooklyn, but in 1940 they moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in the small town of Bolton Landing in upstate New York. Ms. Dehner painted a series of idyllic scenes of their life together that she collectively titled "Life on the Farm." She also did a remarkable series of ink drawings of demonic figures surrounded by vultures and bats, which she called "Damnation Series." Only years later did she realize how much these drawings expressed the increasing psychological discomfort she felt in the waning years of her marriage.

Her career as an artist had to play second fiddle to Smith's. Even though her 1948 drawing "Star Cage" was translated into a sculpture by him a short while later, he was never encouraging about her work. They divorced in 1951.

Four years later, she made her first sculpture. By 1957 she was represented by the prestigious Willard Gallery in New York City, with which she remained until 1976. She had solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1965 and the Phillips Collection in Washington in 1990, among other shows.

Ms. Dehner's second husband, Ferdinand Mann, whom she married in 1957, died in 1974.

She is survived by a stepson, Irwin Mann of New York City, and a stepdaughter, Abigail Mann Thurstrom of Lexington, Mass.

Photo: Dorothy Dehner (The New York Times, 1993)