Tyson writes: "although not a household name, [Dawson] increasingly recognized as the first American artist to work in a completely abstract mode. What’s especially significant about him, though, is that he made his breakthrough to non-objective imagery prior to any exposure to modernist art. Instead, his innovation stemmed from his training and employment as a structural engineer."
Tyler Green argues that Manierre Dawson was the first american abstract painter, and thus Dawson's work is a glaring omission from the exhibition Inventing Abstraction: 1910 - 1925 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on view through April 15, 2013.
Green reports that Dawson "started painted abstractions in 1910, just after he’d joined the Chicago architecture firm Holabird and Roche. At the time, Dawson seems not to have had any awareness of the European or the fledgling American avant-garde, excepting possibly a familiarity with Cezanne. That summer he left for a year-long grand tour of Europe and found himself more interested in art than in architecture. He soon left Holabird and Roche to devote most of his time to painting and to running a Michigan fruit farm. After being fairly prolific in the 1910s, Dawson produced relatively little in the 1920s, almost nothing in the 1930s, only to spend the 1940s and 1950s exploring reliefs and sculptures. Dawson’s is far from the typical modernist story."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.