Arthur Dove: Sails, 1911

Stieglitz provided Dove with his first one-man show in 1912 at the 291.

The show, which included a group of Dove’s pastels that came to be known as “The Ten Commandments”, was the first public exhibition of abstract art by an American.

First American Abstract Painter

Considered by some to be the first truly abstract American painter, Arthur Dove made paintings consisting of organic forms simplified to large swaths of muted color. Part of Alfred Stieglitz’s early 1900s avant-garde artistic circle, Dove’s first exhibition in 1910 showed “The Ten Commandments” series in which he represented biblical themes through abstract, undulating forms.

Abstract as the Essence of the Natural World

The amorphous nature of these paintings exemplifies Dove’s belief that abstraction was not a departure from reality, but rather a means of representing the essence of the natural world beyond its obvious physical forms.




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