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The Unassuming Arthur Dove

"The Father of American Abstraction", so some call this early 20th century figure. It strikes me that should be a big deal, but it doesn't seem to be. I think maybe he doesn't get the respect he deserves.


Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Georgia O'Keefe, John Marin (watercolor), Stuart Davis (more protopop in later work).. Georgraphically spread, largely unaffiliated except thru Stieglitz, all moved toward abstraction-- but especially Dove.

Influenced by Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso. All did interesting and varied work, .. O'Keefe was more than large vaginal flowers, and Hartley more than the "painter of Maine."

Alfred Stieglitz was their promoter and NY lifeline and Duncan Phillips (DC's Phillips Gallery) their great benefactor. The powerful critic Clement Greenberg really disliked all of them-- minor talent, regional...(except Marin) so they never made the inner circle as Pollack and Still, Kline and Rothko lit up the invigorated NY avant guarde{s} in post-war AbEx.


Arthur Dove (1880-1946) is probably generally known, if at all, as a nature painter, an American Regional Artist. He was indeed deeply influenced by nature.. but without titles, or knowing anything about him, they look like beautiful abstractions with few landmarks. Working as a graphic illustrator in NY from 1903, by 1911 was showing abstracts in Stieglitz shows. More muted, earthier colors than Matisse (Bonnard, Delauney) with debts to both Cezanne and Picasso,.. he took their abstractions a clear step forward-- employing both gesture and soft geometric shapes roughly the same time as Kandinsky.

And he was a head, as this quote shows: (from TheArtStory.. re Nature Symbolized II, 1911)::

Rather than try faithfully reproducing elements of nature, Dove stove as a painter to capture its spiritual aspects, bringing attention to those movements and lifecycles beyond the human eye. The heart of Dove's artistic philosophy was the articulation of "essences" that would transmit this sense of the spiritual in nature. These "essences" were biomorphic shapes that represented different kinds of energy or organic evolution, suggesting an inner principle of inherent reality.

Take a look, and tell me what you think..

#artspeakes #artnotes

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