Inspired by Lucy Durkin, and a visit to the Met’s Stieglitz and His Artists
Amidst a growing field of abstract artists, Arthur Dove referred to, and delineated, his own process of categorically abstract art as “extraction.”
Extraction has a more active connotation than abstraction; purifying rather than muddying or concealing. Dove wasn’t seeking after style, but arriving at style as a product of distillation and describing the felt essence of his subjects. He wasn’t striving for originality, but describing a genuine perception of things while layering upon his contemporary influences (Matisse– and fellow 291 artists).
There’s discovery in extraction: a revealing, unearthing, dusting-off which both illuminates the essence of things, and simultaneously leaves something to our imaginations to complete the picture. Dove’s way of seeing is searching, and communicates a rhythmic, improvisatory approach. It comes as close as any 2D object can (Klee, O’Keefe) to occupying another spatial dimension– rhythm, music, time… (All the way back to Plato, rhythm was a general concept applied across aesthetics, arithmetic, psychology, and metaphysics, owing to the profound affect looking at images or experiencing architecture can have on our psyches.)
So– the significance and practical application here can be understanding the rewards of genuine process: almost a scientific approach to beauty or artistic expression. By accurately defining the right questions, actively acknowledging influences all around us and utilizing them as points of origin, we can begin to excavate, reveal, and problem-solve… and enjoy the inevitable fruits of knowledge and the creation of a meaningful product through an honest, open, advancing process.