Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental

Artist:
Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York)
Date:
1941–42
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
90 x 120 in. (228.6 x 304.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996
Accession Number:
1996.367
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2015 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 913
Monumental in scale and densely and thickly painted, Pousette-Dart’s Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental represents a remarkable synthesis of Cubism, biomorphic Surrealism, and 1930s mural painting. Organized upon an uneven grid, the composition consists of circles, teardrops, ovals, arcs, diamonds, and crosses in a rhythmic spread of black, white, and earth tones with points of bright color. Identifiable subjects appear—perhaps a bird at lower left, or some primitive weaponry at upper left—but also fade away. The musical title suggests the artist’s desire to create in paint a grand, intensely personal aesthetic experience, like an orchestral symphony.
the artist, Suffern, N.Y. (until d. 1992; his estate, 1992–96; sold to MMA)

New York. Art of this Century. "Richard Pousette-Dart," March 4–22, 1947, no. 1 (as "Symphony #1, The Transcendental").

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Richard Pousette–Dart," April 17–May 26, 1963, no. 8 (as "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental," lent by Betty Parsons Gallery).

Ithaca, N. Y. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," March 30–May 14, 1978, unnumbered cat. (fig. 119; as "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental," lent by the Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York).

Tokyo. Seibu Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," June 17–July 12, 1978, unnumbered cat.

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," October 5–December 3, 1978, unnumbered cat.

Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. "Transcending Abstraction: Richard Pousette–Dart, Paintings 1939–1985," April 25–June 29, 1986, no. 9 (as "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental," lent by the artist).

Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Richard Pousette-Dart," October 14–December 30, 1990, no. 17 (as "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental," lent by the artist).

Detroit Institute of Arts. "Richard Pousette-Dart," February 10–April 7, 1991, no. 17.

Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia. "Richard Pousette-Dart," September 28, 1991 –January 5, 1992, no. 17.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Richard Pousette–Dart (1916–1992)," November 4, 1997–February 22, 1998, no. 3 (as "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental").

Howard Devree. "Diverse New Shows: French Artists of Today–A New Jersey Group–Others One by One." New York Times (March 9, 1947), p. X7, states that this painting "out–Mahlers Mahler in dimensions and perhaps in inchoate nonobjectivity," adding that the artist "ought to be reviewed in Gertrude Steinese".

John Gordon. Richard Pousette–Dart. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, 1963, pp. 9–10, 50, no. 8, ill. p. 22, dates it 1942.

Richard Pousette-Dart: Drawings. Exh. cat., Andrew Crispo Gallery. New York, 1978, unpaginated, ill., calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental" and dates it 1942.

Robert Carleton Hobbs in Robert Carleton Hobbs and Gail Levin. Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years. Exh. cat., Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. New York, 1978, p. 108, fig. 119, dates it to the early 1940s; relates that this painting's large size provoked curiosity among his contemporaries, noting that Mark Rothko in particular wondered why it was so large and who would buy it.

Gail Levin. "Richard Pousette–Dart's Emergence as an Abstract Expressionist." Arts Magazine 54 (March 1980), pp. 128–29, fig. 25, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental" in the text and "Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental" in the caption, dates it 1942, and locates it in the collection of the artist; notes that Marian Willard, the artist's dealer, refused to move her gallery to a space that could accomodate works of its size.

Sam Hunter in Transcending Abstraction: Richard Pousette–Dart, Paintings 1939–1985. Ed. Sam Hunter. Exh. cat., Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale . Fort Lauderdale, 1986, p. 9, colorpl. 4.

Judith Higgins in Transcending Abstraction: Richard Pousette–Dart, Paintings 1939–1985. Ed. Sam Hunter. Exh. cat., Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale . Fort Lauderdale, 1986, pp. 13, 18–20, 22, 24.

Paul Kruty in Transcending Abstraction: Richard Pousette–Dart, Paintings 1939–1985. Ed. Sam Hunter. Exh. cat., Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale . Fort Lauderdale, 1986, pp. 25, 27, 30, 33 n. 5, p. 91, no. 9.

Judith Higgins. "Pousette-Dart's Windows into the Unknowing." Art News 86 (January 1987), pp. 112–13, 116, ill. p. 110 (color), calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

Jeffrey Wechsler. Abstract Expressionism, Other Dimensions : An Introduction to Small Scale Painterly Abstraction in America, 1940-1965. Exh. cat., Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables. New Brunswick, N. J., 1989, p. 77, publishes an interview with Sam Hunter mentioning this work.

Joanne Kuebler in Robert Hobbs and Joanne Kuebler. Richard Pousette-Dart. Exh. cat., Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 35, 41, no. 17, ill. (color) pp. 41 (detail), 42–43 (overall), dates it about 1941–42.

Robert Hobbs in Robert Hobbs and Joanne Kuebler. Richard Pousette-Dart. Exh. cat., Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 110, 112.

David A. Miller in Robert Hobbs and Joanne Kuebler. Richard Pousette-Dart. Exh. cat., Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 168–69.

Harriet G. Warkel in Robert Hobbs and Joanne Kuebler. Richard Pousette-Dart. Exh. cat., Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 178–79.

David Anfam. Abstract Expressionism. New York, 1990, p. 86, fig. 60, calls it "Symphony No. 1" in the text, dates it 1942, and locates it in the collection of the artist.

Stephen Polcari. Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience. Cambridge, 1991, p. 337, fig. 275, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental" and dates it 1942.

W. Jackson Rushing. "Pousette–Dart's Spirit–Object." Art Journal 50 (Summer 1991), p. 72, fig. 1 (installation photo, Exh. Indianapolis 1990), calls it "Symphony Number 1, the Transcendental"; posits that this work was the first "Big Picture" of the New York School.

April Kingsley. The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art. New York, 1992, pp. 139, 233, asserts that it is "the earliest truly enormous easel painting in the Abstract Expressionist style".

Hilton Kramer. "Adolph Gottlieb's Pictographs Survive Freudian Myth Motif." New York Observer (July 31, 1995), p. 20.

Hilton Kramer. "Met Finally Recognizes Radiant Pousette–Dart." New York Observer (November 17, 1997).

Lowery Stokes Sims in Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992). Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 12, 70, no. 3, colorpl. 3.

Philippe de Montebello in Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992). Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, p. 7.

Stephen Polcari in Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992). Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 63–65, notes the references to Native American art in this work, citing specifically allusions to Northwest Coast Native American masks, mythic birds, and Native American pottery.

Lowery S. Sims in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), p. 80, ill. (color), calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental"; notes that the artist painted this work when he was twenty–five years old.

Stephen Polcari. The Portal: Pousette–Dart. New York, 1998, pp. 15, 17, 21, fig. 4, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

Konrad Oberhuber in The Living Edge: Richard Pousette–Dart, 1916–1992, Works on Paper. Ed. Ingrid Ehrhardt and Katja Hilbig. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt am Main, 2001, pp. 17, 31, fig. 7, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental" in the caption and "Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental" in the text.

Ingrid Ehrhardt in The Living Edge: Richard Pousette–Dart, 1916–1992, Works on Paper. Ed. Ingrid Ehrhardt and Katja Hilbig. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt am Main, 2001, p. 191, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

W. Jackson Rushing III. "Richard Pousette–Dart: 'FOREVER IS NOW'." Art on Paper 6 (March–April 2002), p. 53, dates it 1942.

Sam Hunter. "Richard Pousette–Dart: Transcending Abstraction." Richard Pousette–Dart: The New York School and Beyond. Ed. Sam Hunter and Joanne Kuebler. Milan, 2005, pp. 11, 15–17, colorpl. 1, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental"; states that this painting's title attests to the artist's "innate and entirely original 'mythic' visions, and to his ability to expand plastic invention into viable, universal metaphors".

John Yau. "Forms and Symbols." Richard Pousette–Dart: The New York School and Beyond. Ed. Sam Hunter and Joanne Kuebler. Milan, 2005, p. 35, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

Robert Mattison. "Richard Pousette–Dart: In the Context of Abstract Expressionism." Richard Pousette–Dart: The New York School and Beyond. Ed. Sam Hunter and Joanne Kuebler. Milan, 2005, pp. 49–50, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

Robert Storr. Richard Pousette–Dart: East River Studio. Exh. cat., Luhring Augustine. New York, 2011, p. 6, calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

Joanna Pousette–Dart and Christopher Wool. Richard Pousette–Dart: East River Studio. Exh. cat., Luhring Augustine. New York, 2011, pp. 67–68, 75, call it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental"; relate the artist's wife's recollection that this painting took up most of a wall in the artist's studio.

Alex Bacon. Richard Pousette–Dart. Exh. cat., Pace. New York, 2014, pp. 4, 14 n. 1, fig. 1 (color), calls it "Symphony Number 1, The Transcendental".

David Anfam. Jackson Pollock's 'Mural': Energy Made Visible. Exh. cat., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. New York, 2015, pp. 103–4, 143, no. 86, ill. p. 105 (color).



Related Objects

Woman and Her Cat

Artist: Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York) Date: ca. 1953 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1996.535 On view in:Not on view

[Queen Anne's Lace]

Artist: Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York) Date: 1940s Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1996.207 On view in:Not on view

Lois Long

Artist: Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York) Date: ca. 1953 Medium: Gelatin silver print Accession: 1996.169 On view in:Not on view

Seasons of Light

Artist: Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York) Date: ca. 1942–43 Medium: Gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper Accession: 1991.476.2 On view in:Not on view

Undulation Series

Artist: Richard Pousette-Dart (American, St. Paul, Minnesota 1916–1992 New York) Date: ca. 1941–44 Medium: Gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper Accession: 1991.476.1 On view in:Not on view