Arthur Dove (1880-1946), son of the Dove Block’s builder, was born in nearby Canandaigua in 1880, and moved to Geneva when he was two. He grew up in the city, and attended Hobart College for two years before going on to Cornell University to earn his degree. During his time at Cornell, he also took courses in painting and drawing. Upon graduation, he began a career as an art illustrator. Very successful in that capacity in New York, he soon felt the need to create art based on his own vision.
In 1909, after two years’ study in France, he returned to the U.S. and become America’s first Abstract Expressionist painter. With his close friends, photographer Alfred Steiglitz and artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Dove became one of the acknowledged founders of “Modernism.” During the mid-1930s, he returned to Geneva to settle the family estate. Dove and his wife, Helen ”Reds” Torr, lived on the third-floor of the Dove Block, where he painted at least a hundred of what are now his most critically-acclaimed works. The years in Geneva fueled both his intensity and his productivity as an artist.
In the introduction to Arthur Dove: A Retrospective (MIT Press 1998), Dove’s work is characterized as “possess(ing) a radical content that came from the description of intangible elements such as movement, space, and above all, light. These features were suggestive of abstract shapes and lines and quickly developed for the artist into a formal preoccupation that proved international in its scope and practice.”
Today, his paintings are part of the permanent collections of, among others, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in New York City, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and The Art Institute of Chicago.
Today, as tribute to his successes, our goal is to revitalize a portion of his father’s building into a museum of his work. We hope to share our knowledge and fascination about this local artist with Geneva residents and visitors, and showcase his apititude throughout his life time.