Arthur Garfield Dove 1880 - 1946
- Arthur Garfield Dove
- signed Dove, l.c.
- oil on canvas
Acquired by the present owners from the above, circa 1960s
New York, The Downtown Gallery; Los Angeles, California, Vanbark Studios; Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art, Dove Retrospective Exhibition; Paintings: 1908 to 1946, January-May 1947, no. 34
Arthur Dove painted Arrangement in 1944, two years before his death, during a period in which he was approaching his work with a new intensity and focus. He had suffered a heart attack shortly after he and his wife, Helen Torr, had moved to Centerport, Long Island in 1938. Among other ailments, he was diagnosed with Bright's disease, a kidney disorder, which kept the artist primarily housebound for the rest of his life. Ironically, this setback yielded the most fully-developed and forward-looking work of his career. According to Ann Lee Morgan this period, "which was so limited in other respects for Dove, was a time of great variety in his painting. The diversity in his work makes all the more remarkable the level of his achievement, for in the forties, there is a higher percentage of fully realized successes than ever before. ... Dove saw almost no new art firsthand after the spring of 1938. What and how much he saw or read about in art magazines and newspapers is not clear in the documentary evidence from the forties. However, he seems always to have had good antennae for new ideas in the art climate, to which he was perhaps responding once again" (Arthur Dove: Life and Work with a Catalogue Raisonné, 1984, p. 61).
Dove's career can be characterized by his profound commitment to creating imagery derived from his observation of and fascination with the power of the natural world. Dove's interest was not unique among the coterie of artists represented by the influential dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Barbara Haskell writes, "Nature, for artists such as Dove, O'Keeffe, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, and Oscar Bluemner, embodied a pantheistic sublime. Luminous, pared-down organic shapes, often radiating outward in halos of modulated color, functioned for these artists as pictorial equivalents of the universal rhythm or life force they felt permeated all things. They distilled nature to its essence in order to translate its mystic immanence into powerful, abstract form. This transcendental connection with nature was particularly evident in Dove's work, which abounded in affirmations of his love and empathetic feelings for the earth" (The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-1950, 1999, p. 197).
In a 1942 journal entry, Dove noted that he intended to work at the "point where abstraction and reality meet." For Dove, this meant continuing to draw upon this familiar lexicon of natural iconography while pushing his experimentation with spatial effects and reductive forms to the limit of near perfect abstraction. The result was a group of new paintings, including Arrangement, comprising sculptural, biomorphic, three-dimensional, and overlapping shapes, often in bold colors. According to Ms. Morgan writes, "Announced by The Inn (1942) and fully developed in Arrangements in Form I and II (1944), these paintings recall some earlier Picasso paintings of abstracted, sculptural figures and suggest also actual sculptures by artists such as Seymour Lipton and David Hare" (Arthur Dove: Life and Work with a Catalogue Raisonné, p.64). In Arrangement, anthropomorphic forms repeat and undulate in a dynamic rhythm, their smooth and jagged edges actively penetrating each other's contours. Rendered in a rich and varied palette; layered colors and subtle tonal gradations belie the flat surface of the canvas. Arrangement, and other works from this fruitful period, represent the culmination of Dove's unique synthesis of nature and abstraction.