The Meaningful Abstraction of Richard Pousette-Dart

Katherine20th Century Art, American Paintings, Artist Spotlight1 Comment

Richard Pousette-Dart

Over the course of his career a major goal of Richard Pousette-Dart was “to express the spiritual nature of the universe.” The works that he produced were transcendental and contemplative, rich with meaning. His fierce independence set him apart from contemporaries. The paintings show a unique side to the early Abstract Expressionist movement.

Pousette-Dart was the youngest of the first generation of the Abstract Expressionists. Abstract Expressionism was a New York City based movement which began in 1946 and calmed in the 1960s. Artists expressed themselves through shape and color, rejecting representational art. Early in his career, Pousette-Dart was focused on abstraction of animals, thick black lines, and primordial themes. Other works were made up of pure, vibrant color with symbols scattered throughout.

Richard Pousette-Dart was dynamic and constantly evolving. During the 1940s and 50s, his works were densely layered and incorporated several techniques, such as blotting and scraping. During this time he also produced small, rich watercolors inspired by stained glass and Byzantine mosaics. For Richard Pousette-Dart light held a special significance. This cleansing and spiritual symbolism became the apex focus of his career. His later works eliminated lines and became more luminous.

It is difficult to label Richard Pousette-Dart as a pure Abstract Expressionist. His style evolved according to his sensibilities and not out of a desire to fit into a certain category. Optimistic and sober, he also didn’t fit the stereotype of the typical Modern artist. In 1951, he left the epicenter of the movement in order to create without outside interference.

The Irascibles

The Irascibles

However, what he did share with his contemporaries was the love and respect for abstraction. In 1950, the Metropolitan Museum of Art put together a jury to vote to include contemporary art in the permanent collection. A group of the most illustrious Modern artists signed a letter addressed to the Met’s president. In that letter they accused the museum of assembling a group that hated Modern art. Photographer Nina Leen gathered fourteen of the signers; Pousette-Dart included, to pose for a picture— The Irascibles. This photo was featured in Life. This protest played a significant role in the long debate between Modern and traditional art.

Poetic and positive, Richard Pousette-Dart was a singular figure. He challenged himself to capture on canvas his rich and spiritual views on life. Although he is a more obscure Abstract Expressionist, the significance of his works cannot be denied.


To buy or sell original paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.





One Comment on “The Meaningful Abstraction of Richard Pousette-Dart”

  1. Braden Bills

    I think it’s interesting to see the meaning behind art. That’s truly what art is, after all! It’s a piece that means to invoke feeling from the viewer. So long as there is meaning behind the madness, then it can be quite profound!

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