Arthur Garfield Dove
American – 1934
Oil on canvas
'Arthur Dove's Tree suggests the restless energy and restorative powers of nature. Comprised of undulating, organic forms and an earthy palette of browns and tans, the painting features a large tree limb stretching across the composition and silhouetted against paler, flamelike shapes. These integrated forms suggest the strong, interconnected elements of nature. The composition's horizontality links the painting discreetly to the traditional landscape painting.
Rooting his art deeply in the natural world, Dove was a pioneer in abstraction. He created his earliest abstract compositions in the 1910s, and his efforts were supported by New York-based photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. A major proponent of modernism in America, Stieglitz also promoted the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, among others.'
Apple Blossoms is one of more than 200 paintings of flowers Georgia O'Keeffe created. Characteristically, she asserted the abstract qualities of her subject by painting it close to the surface of the picture plane, a technique that isolates the blossoms from their larger environment. This ensures that they are disconnected from narrative and imbues them with an iconic presence.
While O'Keeffe resented autobiographical interpretations of her art, she identified personally with apples. Her husband, photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, photographed her with apple trees at their summer home at Lake George, New York, where she likely painted Apple Blossoms. Furthermore, Stieglitz thought of himself as a gardener cultivating his talented wife to produce the "fruit" of great American art.
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.
I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so,
they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”