Arthur Dove: Reality and Abstraction
“It is the form the idea takes in the imagination rather than the form as it exists outside.”
With The Wichita Art Museum’s Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style show taking center stage, it can be easy to overlook some of the smaller but no less excellent exhibitions that the Museum currently has to offer. Alongside Dignity vs. Despair: Dorothy Lange and Depression-Era Photography, 1933-1942 and Hung Lui: Migrant Stories, an insightful display of paintings from pioneering abstractionist Arthur Dove should not be missed.
Reality and Abstraction
Arthur Dove: Reality and Abstraction (through June 9th) is concise yet thorough in its curation and provides a fascinating look into Dove’s thought processes from idea to sketch to finished painting. Using oil, watercolor, wax emulsion, & ink, the exhibit presents a pivotal moment in art history – the bridge between reality and abstraction – through Dove’s simplification of form, his luminous use of color, kinetic line & brushwork.
While Wassily Kandinsky was developing a new visual language overseas (of which he is widely credited with sparking modern abstraction), Dove was similarly inspired, regarded as one of the first and most important American abstractionists, deeply moved by our relation to natural phenomena like sunlight, weather, vegetation, and the seasons. Like Kandinsky, he sought the mystical rather than the analytical – the “élan vital” or creative force in all things.
In the larger oils on display, one can see how these magnificent paintings came to be through dozens of vibrant, lyrical studies, distilling the complex, manifold wonder of nature – cycles, growth, renewal – to its simple essence. Although the majority of work on display is small, the scope is universal, profound, and well worth the time. See Arthur Dove: Reality and Abstraction through June 9th in the Wichita Art Museum’s DeVore Gallery.