Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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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, New York (until d. 1992; his estate, 1992–96; sold to MMA)

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Richard Pousette–Dart," April 17–May 26, 1963, no. 8.

Ithaca, N. Y. Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," March 30–May 14, 1978, no. 119.

Tokyo. Seibu Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," June 17–July 12, 1978, no. 119.

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years," October 5–December 3, 1978, no. 119.

Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Richard Pousette-Dart," October 14–December 30, 1990, no. 17 (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.

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

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).

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.

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.

Ingrid Ehrhardt and Katja Hilbig, ed. The Living Edge: Richard Pousette-Dart, 1916–1992. Works on Paper. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt, 2001, p. 31, ill.

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).



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