Arthur Dove is credited as being the first innovative abstract painter in America. Born in upstate New York, he showed artistic talent from a very early age and was guided into the field of illustration. He became a commercial illustrator for Harper’s, Scribner’s, Collier’s, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post, but his growing desire to paint led him to Paris.
In Paris, he met Alfred Maurer, who was to remain a life-long friend, and who introduced Dove to art circles frequented by such characters as Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne. His style at that time was mainly impressionist, but he and Maurer worked to reduce impressionism to larger areas of pure color in the manner of Matisse and Fauvism.
He returned to New York in 1909 and briefly took up illustration again, but through contact with Alfred Steiglitz, exhibited with Steiglitz’s Gallery 291 of avant-garde artists. The American public’s first exposure to Dove was in a 1912 exhibit at Gallery 291, and many shocked viewers regarded him as a deranged modernist. Steiglitz’s friendship and encouragement proved extremely valuable to Dove, who also moved in avant-garde circles with John Sloan, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Alfred Maurer, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
During his lifetime, Dove exhibited widely at such venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; and the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery in Washingon, DC. Today, his work is represented in major private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Phillips Collection, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Yale University Art Gallery, CT; and Randolph-Macon Women’s College, VA.