Arthur Garfield Dove was born in 1880 in Canandaigua, NY
, and was "The most radical modernist of his generation, and blazed a trail that was later picked up by the New York School
" (-Elizabeth Hutton Turner, curator, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts). Opinion aside, Dove was the first
American abstract painter
As a young man, Dove worked as an illustrator in New York City
. After a lengthy tour of Europe (1907-1909), in which he met many members of the American expatriate
group in Paris
, Dove began an abstract style that became a precursor of the abstract expressionist movement. Unfortunately, at the time he began creating these works, there was no cultural or artistic basis ("scene") for such a style, and it wasn't until much later that his became recognized. He would never again return to Paris. His first attempt at the abstract (which preceeded even Wassily Kandinsky
's work) was a series of six pieces, which were first shown in 1910. Dove's work, from his early carreer until his death, was heavily influenced by his deep love for nature.
Upon his return from Paris in 1909, Dove went, in his own words, "native," spending a great deal of time camping in the woods. After being refused a monthly stipend by his father, a successful brickmaker, Dove tried in 1912 to start a farm, without much success. His wife left him in 1920, and he spend the next seven years living on a boat with artist Helen "Reds" Torr
(1886-1967), which they sailed around Long Island
and the Connecticut
coast. This had am extreme influence on his style for several reasons. Because of his isolation, he was excluded from the small clique-y groupds of New York City artists, and his life in nature provided him with extremely different subject matter than anyone else at the time.
Dove's abstractions (to which he referred as "extractions"), were an attempt to reduce natural elements to their basic essences
, both physically and spiritually. He attempted to discover principal shapes and colors that would represent his subject matter to the soul of the observer
as well as to the eye- Dove wanted to do with paint what Emerson
had done to him
with words. He would have been bankrupted several times if not for the faith of New York art dealer Alfred Stieglitz
, who believed in Dove's work and encouraged him throughout his career.
Arthur Dove developed pneumonia
in 1938 while living in a one-room cottage with Torr, and was later diagnosed with a severe kidney disorder
that ravaged his body and eventually resulted in his death in 1943.