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Richard Pousette-Dart Artworks

American Draftsman, Painter, and Sculptor

Richard Pousette-Dart Photo

Born: June 8, 1916 - St. Paul, Minnesota

Died: October 25, 1992 - Suffern, New York

Artworks by Richard Pousette-Dart

The below artworks are the most important by Richard Pousette-Dart - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Animal Head (c. 1936-8)

This work, an abstracted study of an animal head, shows Pousette-Dart's interest in tribal and Jungian themes of confrontation and sacrifice. These themes are the main focus of his work in the 1930s and early 40s. The oval shape is repeated and modified to suggest eye, horn, egg, yolk, and fetus, all surrounded by his characteristic black contour line.

Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental (1941-2)

Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental is a large painting, considered by many to be the first mural-scale work of Abstract Expressionism. Evoking at once musical notes, cell-like squiggles, and the orbits of a planetary system, the work suggests the universal forms that inhere in the world at large. While the spiritual theme and many of the shapes are familiar from his 1930s work, Pousette-Dart's style has become more painterly and textured.

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Chavade (1951)

Pousette-Dart created a number of works in the early 1950s like this one, using pencil and white paint on canvas or board. Originally prompted by a tight budget, the approach shows Pousette-Dart exploring an ethereal side to the abstract grids of Picasso and his New York School heirs. One can discern the characteristic ovals, eye-shapes, and arcs, but rendered in a softer and more --- manner.

Illumination Gothic (1958)

Pousette-Dart developed his pantheon of diamonds, circles, and organic shapes into vertical compositions in the 1950s and 60s. The thickly layered forms in this work suggest an underwater seabed, a stained glass window, or the streaming refractions of filtered light. Where in earlier paintings there are still some distinct, quasi-representational forms, the elements here are abstract and fluid, diffused across the colored ground.

Golden Presence (1961)

With its allover style of colored dots, Golden Presence exemplifies Pousette-Dart's pointillist approach. Up close, one can see the highly textured surface daubs and marks. From far away, the densely layered surface suggests a landscape, garden, or other spatial presence. Pousette-Dart here evokes the spiritual element not through suggestive subject matter but through color, texture, and the veil-like, shimmering surface of the work.

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Now a Turning Orb (1987-90)

In Now a Turning Orb, Pousette-Dart employs familiar forms from his career, like nested circles, pointillist dots, and curved arcs and lines. Here, as in many of his late works, Pousette-Dart balances a sense of structure and harmony (in the even weave of the gridded forms and the central circle) with dynamism and energy (in the vibrating brushstrokes and the sense of whirring motion).

Related Artists and Major Works

Aviation: Evolution of Forms under Aerodynamic Limitations (1937)

Aviation: Evolution of Forms under Aerodynamic Limitations (1937)

Artist: Arshile Gorky (Read Full Artist Overview, Biography, and Artworks pages)

During the Great Depression Gorky worked as a muralist for the Federal Art Projects/Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA). Between 1935 and 1937, Gorky produced a ten panel large-scale mural cycle for Newark Airport. Of the original murals, only two still exist; the others were either destroyed or somehow disappeared. Gorky was one of the very few New Deal muralists to paint in an abstract language.

In this mural, Gorky shows the continuing influence of European Modernism. While clearly engaged with the Cubist vocabulary of Picasso and Braque, the brilliant colors, and mechanized forms of these murals are strongly indebted to Fernand Leger. Gorky has harmoniously brought together different strands of modernism, which he uses to celebrate modern aeronautics, flight, and speed. Here, Gorky successfully deploys the language of pure abstraction with biomorphism along with a more literal representation of the United State with flight paths relevant to Newark. The modern, abstract style of these brightly colored murals sparked controversy in the 1930s as the public prized American Scene realism. Each panel stirs within the viewer the excitement of the modern machine age and spectacle of air travel in the Depression era. Further, through the mural's public placement within Newark airport, Gorky successfully introduced modernist vocabulary to a greater, non-art viewing segment of society.

Pictograph (1946)

Artist: Adolph Gottlieb (Read Full Artist Overview, Biography, and Artworks pages)

This painting consists of a loose grid structure within which are fragmented and overlapping female forms that have been abstracted into flat lines and shapes. Additional spirals and geometric shapes, as well as squiggles and an arrow (that might suggest male elements or the pathway leading out of the structure and confinement) fill in the remaining picture space. Scholars often point to the pink and brown colors as the remaining influence of the colors the artist had absorbed during his visit to Arizona, although one could as easily point to the pink color and organic shapes of Willem de Kooning's 1945 Pink Angels, or the work of the Surrealist Andre Masson, for example. In 1943 Gottlieb coauthored a letter to the New York Times that advocated the rejection of depth and illusion in favor of the honesty of two dimensions, and asserted that while geometric abstraction had reduced painting to a purely intellectual exercise, that art should be an expression of thought and the human experience. Thus, in this painting there is a soft and painterly texture to the surface that humanizes the geometry, communicating to the viewer the significance of our own personal existence within humanity as a whole.

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