|Fog Horns (1929) by Arthur Dove|
"I would like to make something that is real in itself that does not remind anyone of any other things, and that does not have to be explained like the letter A, for instance."
- Arthur Dove
Arthur Dove believed that color and form were instruments with which to express the essence beneath the physical exterior of things. He often painted amorphous
shapes typically in muted colors -- beautifully demonstrated by Foghorns. In this painting, Dove transforms the blare of foghorns into an abstraction that is immediately recognizable, on some subconscious, intuitive level through the simple use of size-graduated shapes and gradations of hue: a feat not easily attained, and yet it seems so simple upon viewing. Instead of immediately demanding the attention of the viewer, the power of Dove’s work is cumulative and slow-moving. His paintings seem very simplistic and are not exceedingly dramatic or instantly attention grabbing. Dove paints in an introspective abstraction style that viewers can only truly appreciate after spending some time meditating on his works.
Dove has influenced many great artists since his passing. He has been credited with exercising an indirect influence on the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, who both place similar emphasis on the artist's subjective experience. The artist whom Dove had the greatest influence over, however, was Georgie O'Keeffe. After seeing Dove's pastels at the Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters in New York in 1916, O'Keeffe began to explore color and abstraction in a series of drawings and watercolors. Renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz, friend of both Dove and O'Keeffe, displayed several of them at his noted gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York --where Dove had his first solo show -- in 1916 and 1917. Dove admired the works O'Keeffe showed at 291, and the two artists finally met in 1918. O'Keeffe seriously considered giving up painting entirely early on in her career. Although she was an award winning art student, she wasn't particularly interested in painting those subjects for which she was lauded. Seeing Dove's work helped O'Keeffe to find her own visual voice. When she was in her 70s, O'Keeffe recalled that,
|Music Pink & Blue by Georgia O'Keeffe|
“It was Arthur Dove who affected my start, who helped me to find something of my own.”
For more about Dove and O'Keeffe's influences on each other go to: Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence and listen to the audio tour of the exhibition.