History And Context
Sun Drawing Water reveals Arthur Dove's attraction to the outward appearance and underlying mystery of nature, a theme that fascinated Dove throughout his life and became most visible in his art during the 1930s. His interest in giving form to the mystical attributes of the environment was encouraged by his fellow artists in the Stieglitz circle and enhanced by his familiarity with theosophical writings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although never a strong advocate of theosophy, Dove was probably drawn to the use of certain forms and colors that symbolized hidden energies in nature and thus created their visual equivalents.
Sun Drawing Water was completed in two weeks during January 1933, shortly before Dove and his wife moved to Geneva in upstate New York. It appears to portray a powerful interaction between earth and sky, a symbolic representation of the evaporative effects of the sun. The water heaves in waves toward central columnar shafts that are shot through with thin, undulating lines and soar into the sun-filled sky. Additional lines quiver horizontally across the sky possibly alluding to the sun's all-encompassing force.