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Arthur Dove

Ferry Boat Wreck

1931

Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931  56.21
Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931. Oil on canvas, 18 × 30 in. (45.7 × 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Roy R. Neuberger  56.21 For Teachers
© The Estate of Arthur G. Dove

about this work

Beginning in the mid-1920s, Arthur Dove turned his attention to the watery landscape of Long Island, where he was a resident caretaker for a local yacht club until 1933. Throughout this period, Dove made paintings and collages that reflect the moods and colors of water and the effects of nature’s forces on the ever-changing surface of the sea. Ferry Boat Wreck is an abstracted interpretation of a wreck he witnessed not far from his home. The dark forms of the sinking boat are outlined against a jagged strip of sand in the foreground and successive bands of waves that merge into clouds. A disk of concentric stripes–perhaps the sun or the moon–pierces the scene. With its overlapping spaces and abstracted, interpenetrating forms, Ferry Boat Wreck expresses Dove’s desire to examine the interrelation of objects and their environments, and to convey the sensations experienced in nature rather than visual realism.

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Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931  56.21

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Describe this image.

What colors and shapes do you see?

What is the mood of this painting? What do you see that makes you say that?

Activities

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Arthur Dove, Ferry Boat Wreck, 1931  56.21 For Teachers

Arthur Garfield Dove was one of the first American artists to explore abstraction. Ferry Boat Wreck is an abstracted version of a specific event; a shipwreck he witnessed near his home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The dark forms of the sinking boat are outlined against a jagged strip of sand in the foreground and successive bands of waves that merge into clouds.

Ask students what the word abstract might mean. After discussing their ideas, let them know that abstraction refers to a work of art that is not recognizable as a picture of a person, place, or thing. Abstract art may reflect an emotion, a sensation, or an aspect of the real world that has been simplified, generalized, distorted, or rearranged.

Ask students to think about a recent event. How would they create an abstract image of that event?

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