Arthur Dove

Largely considered the first American painter to execute a completely abstract painting, Arthur Dove endeavored throughout his career to remain true to his singular artistic vision. However, this is not to say he was without influence. Early in his career in 1907 he traveled to France where he took great interest in the work of the Fauves. Upon his return to the States in 1909 he met Alfred Stieglitz, with whom he would develop an enduring friendship and business relationship. In 1910 with Stieglitz's support Dove painted one of the first truly abstract paintings, which inaugurated the advent of abstraction in American art.

For Dove the purpose of painting abstractly was to extract and capture the essence of the subject. These "essences" or "extractions," as they were called, were meant to symbolize the basic elements of the natural world: force, growth, life. Dove based his compositions on the pulsating energy of nature, and he used basic organic shapes to comprise his paintings. The bold contrasts of geometric forms set in open spaces acted as remarkable precedents for American's postwar abstractions.