Arthur Dove, one of the pioneering abstract painters of the early twentieth century, graduated from Cornell in 1903 and worked for a period as a magazine illustrator. His discovery, in Paris in 1908, of Matisse, the Fauves, and the Cubists, as well as his encounter with aesthetic theories that stressed spiritual expression, had a crucial effect on his subsequent work. He spent much of his year abroad in southern France with Alfred Maurer, who provided Dove's introduction to his lifelong friend and dealer, Alfred Stieglitz. Throughout Dove's work, from the early "Nature Symbolized" series, in which houses, sails, and landscape elements are at times almost unrecognizable, to his later abstractions, Dove translated natural forms, sounds, and musical motifs into powerfully expressive paintings. Although during the 1920s Dove's sense of humor emerged in a group of witty and formally inventive assemblages, his watercolors of the 1930s and 1940s, in which he wove imagery "into a sequence of formations" analogous to musical harmonies, are among his most distinctive works.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)