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Arthur and Helen Torr Dove papers, 1905-1975, 1920-1946

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 7 series:

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Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1928-1937, circa 1961
(2 folders)

Biographical materials include narratives by Arthur Dove's brother Paul Dove and patron Duncan Phillips, genealogical notes, certificates, and a last will and testament. Also found is a reel-to-reel audio recording of an interview with Arthur Dove's son, William Dove (Side 2), in which he discusses his father's early career, his family, the family business and estate, and his father's illnesses.
Additional biographical information can be found in Series 3.

Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1920-1974
(0.8 linear feet)

The arrangement of this series is divided into a general, chronological file of correspondence with multiple persons, and four separate groups of significant correspondence with associates Duncan Phillips and Alfred Stieglitz, and family members Helen "Reds" Torr Dove and Paul Dove.
General Correspondence contains Arthur Dove's personal and professional correspondence with other artists, friends, gallery owners, illustration clients, art critics, writers, and others. The bulk of correspondence consists of letters received by Dove and is arranged chronologically. Significant correspondents include Berenice Abbott (1938), Sherwood Anderson (1937, copy), Oscar Bleumner (undated), Van Wyck Brooks (1920, 1925, 1933, 1935), Ellis Parker Butler (1923, 1924), Florence Cane (1921, 1924, 1944, undated), Stuart Davis (1946), William Einstein (1940), C.H. Fuerstenberg (sister to Alfred Maurer, 1937), Edward Alden Jewell (undated, see also outgoing), Gaston LaChaise (1928), Lawson (probably Ernest, undated), John Marin (1938), Elizabeth McCausland (1940, undated), Dorothy Norman (1934, 1937, 1939, undated), Herbert Seligmann (1932), Paul Strand (1920, 1921, 1932), and Emil Zoler (undated). Drafts and copies of outgoing letters are mostly undated and are filed separately; in a few cases, Dove's letters are paired with a response among the outgoing letters, including a draft of a letter to Gaston LaChaise (1928).
Duncan Phillips corresponded steadily with Arthur Dove from the late 1920s until Dove's death in 1946. Their correspondence provides a detailed view of the long and unusual relationship between the artist and the patron. Included are two letters to Alfred Stieglitz, from 1934 (a copy) and 1936, in which Phillips discusses their financial arrangement and the acquisition of paintings. Drafts and copies of letters written by Dove are mostly undated, and while all are ostensibly from Dove, several of them are in Helen Torr Dove's handwriting. Additional correspondence between Dove and the staff of the Phillips Memorial Gallery can be found in General Correspondence.
Dove's letters to Alfred Stieglitz consist of drafts and copies of seven letters. Some of the letters appear to be copies made by Helen Torr Dove, and some are unfinished. Subjects include painting habits, art criticism, mutual friends, anecdotes, gallery business, and Dove's thoughts about being offered a government salary through the Public Works of Art Project, which he ultimately turned down. Many letters from Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe to Dove were loaned for microfilming and are available on AAA microfilm reel 725. The originals reside in the Stieglitz/O'Keeffe Archive at the Beinecke Library of Yale University.
Letters between Arthur Dove and his second wife, Helen "Reds" Torr Dove, were written during periods of separation, usually due to health and family concerns. Each chronological sequence contains one side of their daily and detailed correspondence, with the earlier letters (1933-1936) written by Arthur Dove, and later letters (1939) written by Helen Torr Dove. Scattered letters to and from other family members related to the circumstances at hand are also present. Correspondence between Arthur Dove and his younger brother, Paul Dove, concerns family property and other personal matters. Their wives, Helen Torr Dove and Betty Dove, are often included in their correspondence, but the brothers are the primary authors.
Where possible, letters are arranged chronologically. Undated letters are filed at the end of each group.

Series 3: Writings, circa 1924-1945
(1.5 linear feet)

This series includes logs, diaries, notes, essays, and poetry written by Arthur Dove, his wife, and others.
The Dove diaries begin in 1924 with Arthur Dove's "Log of the Mona," the boat on which he and Reds lived at the time. The log records weather conditions, daily activities, and occasionally his thoughts about art. From late 1924 until 1945, Reds and Arthur Dove seem to have shared a responsibility for keeping a daily account of their lives. Diaries record the couple's activities, including social visits, letter writing, chores, trips, and art-making. Reds was the primary author of the diaries from1925 until 1935. Her records are very brief in early diaries, but gradually became more detailed, and are especially rich with information about Arthur Dove's artwork. In 1935, a separate notebook was kept for information about paintings in. In 1936 and 1937, the diaries include entries by both Arthur and Reds, and by 1939 Arthur took over entirely and continued keeping diaries for them until early 1945. A notebook of excerpts from earlier diary entries about Dove's artwork was later created by Reds, and may have been compiled for a retrospective exhibition held in 1956.
Arthur Dove's writings include handwritten and typewritten essays, poems, notes, and aphoristic statements that deal with the subjects of abstraction in art, modern art, nature, color, and the artists he admired. Typewritten essays include brief, dated statements of Dove's methods and ideas about art, and longer, titled essays on a range of subjects. Five essays about Alfred Stieglitz and one about John Marin are also included, some in multiple drafts. One of the Stieglitz pieces was written on the occasion of his death. Notes documenting a conversation between Arthur Dove and Alfred Maurer about American painting appear in two versions, one written by Arthur Dove, the other by Helen Torr. Occasionally, a hand-written copy of Dove's writings made by Helen is found with the original. A small compilations of early writings entitled "Prose and Poetry" includes a photograph of Dove circa 1925.
Many of Helen's notes and writings have to do with her recollections her husband. Unattributed essays and poems are in Helen's handwriting and may be copies of Dove's writings that, because they do not appear elsewhere in this collection, cannot be attributed with certainty.
Research Notes on the Dove Papers are notes made by art historians who went through the papers, presumably after Dove's death but before the papers came to the Archives.

Series 4: Printed Materials, circa 1905-1975
(0.3 linear feet)

This series includes exhibition catalogs, Dove's magazine illustrations, news clippings, pamphlets, and other printed miscellany. Most of the material in this series is directly related to Dove's art career.
Exhibition Catalogs include solo and group exhibition catalogs for Arthur Dove and others, including other exhibitions at the galleries of Alfred Stieglitz in New York, The Intimate Gallery and An American Place. The catalogs in this collection do not represent all of the exhibitions of Arthur Dove. Other artists represented include Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin, Alfred Stieglitz, and a group show including Helen Torr. All are unmarked, except for a 1932 catalog for a Dove show.
Dove's Magazine Illustrations include clippings from illustrated magazines such as
Illustrated Sporting News
The Evening Mail
Pearson's Magazine
, and
The Saturday Evening Post
, among others.
Clippings are almost exclusively reviews of Arthur Dove's exhibitions. Publications include pamphlets, newsletters, press releases, mailings, and other miscellany. Among these are several articles from a pamphlet series called "It Might Be Said" published by An American Place gallery, two radio reviews by E.M. Benson, and several articles about John Marin, Georgia O'Keeffe, and modernism.

Series 5: Personal Business Records, circa 1921-1965
(0.3 linear feet)

This series documents expenses, income, painting sales, taxes, and artwork inventory of Arthur Dove.
An accounting ledger details Arthur and Helen Dove's personal and business expenses and contains notes and a sketch in the later and end-pages of the volume. Receipts from the period of Dove's lifetime document the purchase of their boat, art supplies, and a painting at a 1923 O'Keeffe exhibition. Receipts for sales of Dove's paintings are mostly from the Downtown Gallery in NY, and mostly date to after Dove's death in 1946. Gallery receipts record the price, title of work, date of sale, and often the buyer's last name.
Also found are tax records and an undated inventory of artwork at An American Place gallery and in storage.

Series 6: Artwork, undated
(1 folder)

Artwork in this series includes three cartoons; six sketches; and one small drawing. Sketches are in watercolor, pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil, and graphite. Two of the sketches are double-sided.

Series 7: Photographs, 1909, undated
(4 folders)

Photographs in this series include personal photographs and photographs of artwork. Personal photographs are unidentified and undated and depict mostly family, homes, and coastal scenes.
An additional photograph of Arthur Dove, used to illustrate a collection of writings entitled "Prose and Poetry," can be found in Series 3.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.