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John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, IV: Arthur Dove: Circles, Signs, and Sounds

Rachael Z. DeLue, associate professor, department of art and archaeology, Princeton University. The modern American artist Arthur Dove (1880–1946) drew inspiration from the natural world when making his paintings and assemblages, but he also played around with found objects, popular music, sound technology, aviation, farm animals, meteorology, language, and script, including his own signature. The circle motifs that appear persistently across Dove’s art serve to signify and connect these disparate things, creating a vital and unique form of abstraction, one resolutely if paradoxically bound to objective reality and material existence. As Dove himself said, “there is no such thing as abstraction,” preferring the term “extraction” to describe the essential relationship between his work and the world. Speaking at the inaugural John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art, held on October 22, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Rachael Z. DeLue discusses some of the chief characteristics of Dove’s extractions, focusing on examples from the Gallery’s collection. The John Wilmerding Symposium on American Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Walton Family Foundation.