An exhibition that explores the influence of Arthur Dove, the modernist American painter, on the abstract expressionism of Georgia O’Keefe highlighted the schedule at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA from June 7 through September 7, 2009. Entitled Dove/O’Keefe; Circles of Influence, the exhibition did feature 60 major oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and pastels spanning 1910 to the early 1940s.
Dove inspired O’Keefe from the start
From the start of her career, O’Keeffe credited a reproduction of a Dove pastel as her introduction to modernism. Dove’s use of sensual, abstract forms to evoke the flowing rhythms and patterns of nature had already put him at the forefront of the American modernist movement by the time O’Keeffe entered the scene around 1916.
Among the seminal works on view were O’Keeffe’s Dark Abstraction (1924) and Jack-in-The Pulpit No. VI (1930), and Dove’s Moon (1935) and Fog Horns (1929). Georgia O’Keeffe, Jack-in-Pulpit – No. 2 1930. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe. Images courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Dove had been featured at the renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery “291” in 1912, and O’Keeffe’s work was first shown there in 1916. Works from this period, including Dove’s Abstraction, No. 3 (1910-11) and O’Keeffe’s No. 24-Special/No. 24 (1916-17), established the innovative aesthetic vision that characterized their early work. Arthur Dove, Sunrise, 1924. Oil on panel, 18 1/4 x 20 7/8 in. (46.4 x 53 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum. Gift of Mrs. Edward R. Wehr Milwaukee Art Museum (photo by John R. Glembin); Courtesy of and copyright The Estate of Arthur Dove;Courtesy Terry Dintenfass, Inc.
The exhibition was organized by the Clark and curated by Debra Bricker Balken, an independent curator specializing in American modernism and contemporary art who organized a Dove retrospective in 1997. The Clark published an exhibition catalogue authored by Balken and distributed by Yale University Press. This is the first publication to focus on the relationship between Dove and O’Keeffe and explores the nature of art criticism in the early twentieth century as it related to psychoanalytic thought and formalism.