Arthur Dove

born Canandaigua, NY 1880-died Huntington, NY 1946
Also known as
  • Arthur G. Dove
  • Arthur Garfield Dove
Canandaigua, New York, United States
Huntington, New York, United States
Active in
  • Westport, Connecticut, United States
  • New York, New York, United States
  • Geneva, New York, United States
  • Centerport, New York, United States
  • American

Born in New York. A pioneering abstract painter known for expressing natural forms, sounds, and musical motifs in his paintings.

Nora Panzer, ed. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art (New York and Washington, D.C.: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children in association with the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1994)

Artist Biography

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)


Media - 1986.6.92 - SAAM-1986.6.92_3 - 135150
Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection
February 28, 2014August 16, 2014
Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection presents some of the most treasured artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection, including works by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Arthur Dove, Nancy Grossman, Edward Hopper, Wolf Kahn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, Reginald Marsh, Ben Shahn, and Honoré Sharrer, among others. The exhibition includes seventy paintings and sculpture from the 1910s to the 1980s that encompass the range of what can broadly be called modern realism, from socio-political to psychological, from satirical to surrealist. The artworks on display were selected by Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator at the museum.