Born in 1880 in Canandaigua, New York, Arthur Dove became a commercial illustrator in New York after his 1903 graduation from Cornell University. His desire to paint increased, and he and his wife set sail for Europe in 1907. In Paris, he met American painter Alfred Maurer and gained entry to art circles that included Matisse, Picasso, and Cézanne. His style at that time was impressionist, but he and Maurer worked to reduce impressionism to larger areas of pure color in the manner of Matisse.

In 1909, Dove returned to New York, where he met influential photographer Alfred Stieglitz and began showing his work at Stieglitz’s avant-garde gallery, 291. Dove’s first exhibition in 1912 included a series of abstract pastels known as “The Ten Commandments” that established his reputation as a modernist. Dove was among the first twentieth-century American artists to produce purely abstract paintings, and he continued this practice to varying degrees throughout his career. Dove used color freely along with calligraphic lines emphasizing energy or force.


After returning from Europe, Dove moved his young family to a farm in Westport, Connecticut, but his first marriage eventually broke up in 1920. Dove later married his longtime companion, artist Helen “Reds” Torr. In 1933 Dove inherited the estate of his parents and moved to Geneva, New York, where he tried to make a living as a farmer until poor health forced him to relocate. From 1938 until the end of his life, he lived on Long Island Sound as a semi-invalid, with painting as his only activity. He died in 1946.

During his lifetime, Dove exhibited widely, with Alfred Stieglitz and at other venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery.

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