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Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922)
Louis Prang & Co. (Boston)
Modern Art, 1895
color lithograph
50.8 x 40 cm (20 x 15 3/4 in.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Gary and Brenda and Harrison Ruttenberg

The nearly abstract composition and geometric placement of this landscape in a floral frame demonstrate the strong influence of Japanese design on Arthur Wesley Dow's work. Reproduced from a woodcut by printer and Modern Art publisher Louis Prang, the poster was available as a free benefit to the journal's subscribers and to the general public for twenty-five cents in stamps.

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Biography of Arthur Wesley Dow

Born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Arthur Wesley Dow studied art in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, he became an important commercial designer. Although he designed relatively few posters, his works are important in terms of their stylistic innovations.

When Dow returned from Paris, he became acquainted with Ernest Fenellosa, curator of Oriental art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; this friendship led him to develop a deep interest in Japanese art. As a result, his own designs incorporated the Japanese linear approach to form as well as broad planes of mass and color. Not merely borrowing the forms and style of Japanese art, Dow sought a synthesis of Western and Eastern art. Landscape was of particular importance to Dow, and he executed a number of works based on studies of nature in Ipswich.

In addition to his accomplishments as an artist, Dow was an important educator. He taught at Pratt Institute and the Art Students League at the turn of the century.

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