Arthur Dove


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(b Canandaigua, NY, 2 Aug. 1880; d Huntington, Long Island, NY, 23 Nov. 1946).

American painter, a pioneer of abstract art. For most of his career he earned his living as a commercial illustrator and he was often in great financial difficulty (even though he was supported by Stieglitz and Duncan Phillips). He visited Europe in 1907–9, coming into contact with Fauvism and other avant-garde movements, and in 1910/11 he painted a remarkable series of pictures, Abstraction No 1–Abstraction No 6 (priv. coll.), that are somewhat similar to Kandinsky's work of the same time. They are often described as the first pure abstract paintings in American art, but they retain traces of landscape forms. Dove never exhibited these little oils in his lifetime (and he perhaps considered them studies rather than finished paintings), but he displayed similar work at his first one-man exhibition at Stieglitz's 291 Galley in 1912. For most of his career he continued to base his abstractions on organic forms, suggesting the rhythms of nature with their pulsating shapes (Sand Barge, 1930, Phillips Coll., Washington). During the 1940s, however, he experimented with a more geometric type of abstraction (That Red One, 1944, William H. Lane Foundation, Leominster, Mass.). In his later years he also took a leading part in the campaign to win artists royalty rights for the reproduction of their work.

Subjects: Art.

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