History And Context
In 1934, Arthur Dove’s friend and sometimes dealer Albert Stieglitz exhibited several of Dove’s paintings at his An American Place gallery. Critic Lewis Mumford wrote at the time of the show, “Dove has a light touch, sense of humor, and an inventive mind. . . . The lugubrious brown tree stumps undulating in a cauldron of flashing white life contain portents of new biomorphic rhythms.” Dove’s paintings at this time, infused with buoyant color and rippling lines of black, represent his new exploration of line and form.
In Tree Trunks, painted in 1934 and exhibited at An American Place, Dove has not completed abandoned representation for abstraction, as the image of the tree trunks is still visible, but represents a shift in Dove’s work toward something more fluid. The colors meld together and bleed through the canvas. Dove’s forms are round, almost fleshy, and reflect the vibrancy of his palette. The canvas, in its entirety, is impregnated with energetic colors and lines that feel as if they will explode off the canvas at any moment.