ARTHUR DOVE AND DUNCAN PHILLIPS: ARTIST AND PARTRON -- At the Phillips Collection, Saturday through August 16. Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday 2 to 7.
Is there life after the "Boating Party"? Indeed. Having packed off the famous Renior for a while, the Phillips Collection launches its major show for the year, "Arthur Dove and Duncan Phillips: Artist and Patron."
The exhibition, opening this Saturday, includes 12 watercolors, 56 oils and several pastels, charcoal drawings and constructions, all painting Dove as a pioneer of American abstract art. "Along with Kandinsky, Dove was the first to move decisively to abstract expressionism," says Sasha Newman, curator for the show.
It also looks at Dove's relationships with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, his dealer and mentor, and Duncan Phillips, his major collector. Phillips' his major collector. Phillips' monthly $50 check was clearly a worthy investment: he may not have influenced the artist (in fact, Steiglitz made sure he could not), but the stipend allowed Dove to give up commercial work and move from objective compositions to more experimental ones.
Dove's turn-of-the-century roots in illustration (for Harper's, Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post) are traceable in a number of the works, and as he moved toward the abstract in the '30s, his painting kept their focus on natural objects and organic colors. "Sand Barge" is striking: Both a small watercolor study and the larger oil painting executed in 1930 are on view. Each states the bare essentials of the natural scene in grainy layers of orange, brown and mustard, with angular and spotted splashes of color.
A number of watercolors and companion oils (barns, sunrises, moonrises and more barns) are presented for comparison. "The large oils are very calculated and sophisticated works, while the spontaneity and freshness of vision are obvious in the watercolors," says Newman.
A series of Stieglitz photographs hang in an intimate room complementing the main show.