Arthur Dove, often credited as America’s first abstract painter, created dynamic and evocative images inspired by his surroundings, from the farmland of upstate New York to the North Shore of Long Island. But his interests were not limited to nature. Challenging earlier accounts that view him as simply a landscape painter, Arthur Dove: Always Connect reveals for the first time the artist’s intense engagement with language, the nature of social interaction, and scientific and technological advances.
Rachael Z. DeLue rejects the traditional assumption that Dove can only be understood in terms of his nature paintings and association with photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz and his circle. Instead, she uncovers deep and complex connections between Dove’s work and his world, including avant-garde literature, popular music, meteorology, mathematics, aviation, and World War II. Arthur Dove also offers the first sustained account of Dove’s Dadaesque multimedia projects and the first explorations of his animal imagery and the role of humor in his art. Beautifully illustrated with works from all periods of Dove’s career, this book presents a new vision of one of America’s most innovative and captivating artists — and reimagines how the story of modern art in the United States might be told.
“Provocative. . . In detailed readings of numerous paintings, including calligraphic aspects of Dove’s signatures and comparisons with contemporaneous graphic and scientific representations as sources for Dove’s depictions of natural phenomena, the author sheds new light on how to read the abstract painterly elements of the artist’s works. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Reveals a remarkable array of forces at work in what is probably the best body of painted work in the circle around Alfred Stieglitz. DeLue avoids many classical approaches, questions, issues; instead, she delivers a visual cultural investigation of historical discourses—about weather, sound recording and broadcast, shorthand, and others — that pays substantial dividends when DeLue returns to discuss the paintings. This is an exemplary art historical appropriation of visual culture, and it puts forward a strong thesis about what motivates Dove’s major works of 1921 to 1946.”
— Critical Inquiry
“A timely reassessment and recounting of Dove’s work, thought, and practice.”
— On the Seawall
“Sheds light on previously little known dimensions of [Dove’s] work. With the help of her unmatchable knowledge of paining and Dove, DeLue has reinterpreted Dove’s work in a very fresh way.”
— Washington BookReview
“Through its focus on a single artist, the American modernist painter Arthur Dove, DeLue’s book increasingly widens its scope to take in everything from weather science to jazz improvisation, from the study of Gregg shorthand to the structure of the radium atom. DeLue follows where Dove’s work and life lead, and the results are no less dazzling than the paintings that appear in full color in this splendid book.”
— Richard Meyer, author of What Was Contemporary Art?
“DeLue presents a Dove just waiting to be revisited, a Dove so much more interesting and beguiling than previously assumed. This is a Dove who engages the most vernacular things — maps, letters, numbers, weather, metal, natural and manmade sounds, hair, elemental shapes — to arrive at a refreshingly prosaic and often literal sense of connectedness. This is the boldest, the most illuminating, the most persuasive, and frankly the most interesting study of pre-1945 American modernism I have ever read.”
— Leo Mazow, University of Arkansas