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© Estate of Arthur G. Dove, courtesy Terry Dintenfass, Inc.

Audio Guide - Adult

Car in Garage, 1934

Artist: Arthur Dove, American, 1880-1946

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 12 1/4 x 14 1/8 in. (31.1 x 35.9 cm)
Frame: 22 7/8 x 24 7/8 in. (58.1 x 63.2 cm)

Credit Line: Eugenia Buxton Whitnel Funds

Object Number: 76.12

Copyright: © Estate of Arthur G. Dove, courtesy Terry Dintenfass, Inc.

On View

Estate of E. G. Halpert; The Downtown Gallery, New York, New York, ca. 1971; Steven Straw Co., Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1976

Arthur Dove was born in Canandaigua, New York, and settled in New York City in 1903. There, he worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines such as Scribner’s and Harper’s. Following two years in Europe where he encountered European modernism, Dove returned to New York in 1909. Alfred Stieglitz gave him his first one-person exhibition at Gallery 291 in 1912. Deeply interested in nature and organic forces, Dove produced some of the first distinctly nonobjective, or fully abstract, works by an American artist. He liberated line from illustration to evoke the energy within all living things instead of capturing their exterior appearance.


In Car in Garage, the rectangular or square building the viewer might expect to see housing a car is transformed into a curved shape crowned with waves suggesting energy and movement. Represented by an ovoid mass topped by an egg form and a red radiator grill, the car ends with a red bumper below. Objects within the painting grow into each other, making it virtually impossible to distinguish individual elements. Such ambiguity, however, is outweighed by the harmonious and lively composition emphasizing the dynamism of the automobile and the space containing it. The limited palette of earth tones is highlighted with a few powerful areas of color—the white-and-yellow egg, and the red of the grill and bumper. The end result is an animated scene that engages the viewer in a game of deciphering the components Dove cleverly arranged on the canvas. Indeed, were it not for the title, the subject would most likely remain a mystery.