Reflections

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
oil on canvas
Mark Descriptions
signed, L.C.: Dove
Dimensions
15 1/8 x 21 1/16 in.
Credit line
Caroline Marmon Fesler Fund
Accession number
2003.161
Collection
Currently On View

Reflections features the circular shapes, natural forms and feathered brushstrokes that are hallmarks of Dove's style.

Dove, an artist known for his humor and whimsy, said that this painting was about reflections from headlights on the windshield of a car.

The artist was a key member of the Stieglitz Group of modernist painters and a pioneer of abstraction.

The artist; Alfred Stieglitz in New York; The Downtown Gallery in New York; collection of Mr. and Mrs. Denman Bellevue WA; private collection; corporate collection; purchased from Alexandre Gallery in 2003 by the IMA
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An American Pioneer of Abstract Art

"Arthur Dove is the first American artist known to have painted an abstract work of art, in 1910. His bold approach, which emphasized a personal, emotional response to nature, brought him to the attention of the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz. Together with John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe, Dove was a core member of the Stieglitz Group, a small circle of American artists dedicated to modernism. They regularly exhibited at Stieglitz's New York City galleries, including 291 Gallery and, later, An American Place. A broad similarity exists between Dove and the Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. Both artists tried to translate the rhythm and harmony of music into visual art, using color to express sound.

Painted during the period when Dove was abandoning representation altogether, Reflections contains all the elements characteristic of his work. The abstract composition incorporates the whimsical elements, circular shapes, organic forms, and feathered brushstrokes typical of his best canvases. The sun and moon, often depicted with wit and humor, were prominent themes in Dove's work. Reflections can be interpreted in a straightforward way as a landscape with sun, clouds, grass, and trees. But a note written by Dove implies a second, more playful interpretation. Referring to this painting Dove wrote: 'Reflections (from headlight in car),' suggesting it can also be seen as the afterimage created by the headlights of a passing automobile."

Lee, Ellen Wardwell, Anne Robinson, and Alexandra Bonfante-Warren. Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2005, p. 152.

Arthur Dove and Biomorphic Abstraction

Arthur Dove was born in Canandaigua, New York, and moved with his family to Geneva, New York. He followed his parents’ desire and started pre-law courses at Cornell University; he also enrolled in art courses. Dove spent eighteen months in Europe. When he returned to New York, he was introduced to his future dealer and lifetime advisor, Alfred Stieglitz. Dove was a core member of the Stieglitz Group, a small circle of American artists dedicated to modernism, who regularly exhibited at Stieglitz’s New York City galleries. Dove made his home on a farm in Westport, Connecticut, and established himself as one of the first abstract artists. His goal was to represent nature in a very personal way, capturing its essences and nuances in an abstract manner. He moved with his future wife and fellow artist, Helen Torr, to a houseboat on the Harlem River from 1924 to 1933. During these years, his work focused on his environment and included boats, barges, and docks. For five years, he lived on his family’s farm in Geneva, where his subjects were inspired by the rural environment.

Painted during the period when Dove abandoned representation altogether, Reflections contains all of the characteristic elements of his work. The sun and moon were prominent motifs in Dove’s work. Reflections can be interpreted in a straightforward way as a landscape with sun, clouds, grass, and trees. However, a note written by Dove implies a second, more playful interpretation. Referring to this painting he wrote: “Reflections (from headlight in car),” suggesting it can also be seen as the afterimage created by the headlights of a passing automobile.

Balken, Debra Bricker. Arthur Dove: A Retrospective. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Arthur Dove is the first American artist known to have painted an abstract work of art, in 1910. His bold approach, which emphasized a personal, emotional response to nature, brought him to the attention of the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz. Together with John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe, Dove was a core member of the Stieglitz Group, a small circle of American artists dedicated to modernism. They regularly exhibited at Stieglitz's New York City galleries, including 291 Gallery and, later, An American Place. A broad similarity exists between Dove and the Russian abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. Both artists tried to translate the rhythm and harmony of music into visual art, using color to express sound.

Painted during the period when Dove was abandoning representation altogether, Reflections contains all the elements characteristic of his work. The abstract composition incorporates the whimsical elements, circular shapes, organic forms, and feathered brushstrokes typical of his best canvases. The sun and moon, often depicted with wit and humor, were prominent themes in Dove's work. Reflections can be interpreted in a straightforward way as a landscape with sun, clouds, grass, and trees. But a note written by Dove implies a second, more playful interpretation. Referring to this painting Dove wrote: "Reflections (from headlight in car)," suggesting it can also be seen as the afterimage created by the headlights of a passing automobile.

To make [an image] breathe as does the rest of Nature it must have a basic rhythm.
-Arthur Dove, 1933