Manierre Dawson

born Chicago, IL 1887-died Sarasota, FL 1969
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Sarasota, Florida, United States
Active in
  • Ludington, Michigan, United States
  • American

Manierre Dawson enjoyed painting from an early age, but his father thought that art was impractical, so the young artist studied engineering and went on to work in an architects office. But he was dissatisfied with the simple drafting projects he was assigned and devoted much of his time to painting. In 1910 he created a series of images that are thought to be the first abstract paintings ever created by an American artist. He managed to sneak one of these into the 1913 Armory Show by asking one of the organizers to hang it when no one was looking. His friend agreed, but said that it would have to come down if anybody noticed. Dawson spent several months in Europe and sold his first painting to the American writer and art patron Gertrude Stein. In 1914 he married and established a fruit farm in Michigan, which eventually made him a millionaire. He still created paintings and sculpture, but most of his time was devoted to his farm and family. (Adams and Ploog, Manierre Dawson: American Pioneer of Abstract Art, 1999)