Dove, Arthur G.
Oil and wax on canvas
27 x 36 in.
Wichita Art Museum, Roland P. Murdock Collection
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
Dove’s late work evidences a departure from his earlier style, a departure animated by his probing of spiritual meaning in the relationship between cosmos, light, and life. His late works, like High Noon, composed of hard-edged geometric shapes, take on an iconic quality, heightened by his use of brilliant primary and secondary hues. By probing into the outward nature of the universe through the physical laws that govern its chaos, Dove was actually engaged in an inward journey to attain peace with his own moment in that universe—a moment which was coming to pass.
By 1941, Dove’s health had greatly deteriorated, his body ravaged by kidney disease and two strokes. Due to his physical condition, he became increasingly isolated from his circle of New York associates, which revolved around Alfred Stieglitz and his gallery An American Place. Despite his declining health, Dove’s diaries reveal an alert mind actively engaged in artistic questions of form, color, and space. Fascinated by contemporary theories regarding the fourth dimension and its relation to time and shape, Dove included extensive explanations of the fourth dimension in his diary. Working prodigiously, he began translating these theories from the written word into a visual language by using abstract form to communicate abstract mathematical theory—the fourth dimension could be visualized by its continuously varying sections which lie in three dimensional space.
Shifting shape and luminous solids in High Noon embody a notion of continuously rotating time, as explained by the fourth dimension, where time is a coordinate point in which an event occurs. The mesmerizing yellow of the toothed diamond, in which the sun’s orb is encapsulated, suggests a cross-section of a whirling solid. The sun viewed through this vibrating field suggests the transparency of all solids in this next dimension, while illustrating Dove’s personal understanding of the sun as a celestial body formed of layered gases through which light escapes. Vividly colored, abstract forms at the bottom of the canvas exist within a space that is subsumed within a dark blue void contained by a larger green, interior geometry. Read intuitively, these bold forms suggest growing organic forms thriving on cosmic energy. Through the saturated color and iconic shapes of High Noon. Dove breathes drama into the intellectual experience of the physical mysteries of the universe.