Arthur Dove (American, 18801946)
Watercolor, tempera, brush and ink on paper; 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.8 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.70.96)
In 1930, Dove began to work regularly in watercolor, becoming as skillful and prolific in that medium as he was in oil painting. In this image, concentric rings of gradated color evoke a tree's profile of full foliage, its seasonal cycle of bloom and decay, and its interaction with light and air. The "tree" of this watercolor also resembles the stamen of a flower, or some embryonic organism still enclosed in its egg or cocoon. Dove's imagery even makes a symbolic reference to the human body. Here, the phallic shape of the central vertical element, which suggestively penetrates the layered ovoid form, relates to Dove's constant themes of regeneration and growth.