Arthur Dove

What constitutes American painting?... things may be in America, but it's what is in the artist that counts. What do we call 'American' outside of painting? Inventiveness, restlessness, speed, change... - Arthur Dove

Arthur Garfield Dove (August 2, 1880 – November 23, 1946) was an American artist. An early American modernist, he is often considered the first American abstract painter.  Dove attended Hobart College and Cornell University, and graduated from Cornell in 1903. After graduation, he became a well known commercial illustrator in New York City, working for Harper's Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. In 1909, he met and befriended Alfred Stieglitz, a well known photographer and gallery owner who was very active in promoting modern art in America, including works by European artists that had never been seen before in the U.S. While Dove's gentle, quiet personality contrasted with Stieglitz' argumentative and shrewd manner, they found their common ground in the idea that art forms should embody modern spiritual values, not materialism and tradition. With Stieglitz's support, Dove produced what are known as the first purely abstract paintings to come out of America. Dove’s works were based on natural forms and he referred to his type of abstraction as “extraction” where, in essence, he extracted the essential forms of a scene from nature. From 1912 to 1946 Dove showed his work annually at Stieglitz’s galleries: 291, Intimate Gallery, and An American Place.

In 1946, Dove had his last show with nine new paintings and made his final visit to the gallery, seeing Stieglitz for the last time. A little more than a month after the show closed in July, Stieglitz died of heart failure. Badly shaken from his friend’s death, Dove lived for only four more months. Although he became partially paralyzed by a stroke, he continued to paint with wife Helen Torr's help, guiding the brush as he painted. He collapsed and died at Huntington Hospital on November 23, 1946.

 

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