About This Artwork

Arthur Dove
American, 1880–1946

Swing Music (Louis Armstrong), 1938

Emulsion, oil, and wax on canvas
44.8 x 65.7 cm (17 5/8 x 25 7/8 in.)
Signed bottom: "Dove"

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.540

Like many modernists, Arthur Dove sought to suggest a connection between his paintings and music, which he admired for its ability to suggest absolute feeling, free of reference to the material world. An ardent amateur musician, he depicted musical subjects throughout his career. In the late 1920s he began listening to music while painting and simultaneously initiated a series of works on forms of popular music such as jazz and swing. Swing Music (Louis Armstrong) celebrates the renowned jazz trumpeter, who, in the 1930s, led swing-style orchestras. For Dove this topic was especially attractive because it evoked the dynamism characteristic of 20th-century life. Its specifically American nature made it an ideal subject for the native modernism that Dove and the other artists from the circle of Alfred Stieglitz sought to establish. Stieglitz exhibited this painting at his gallery An American Place.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, An American Place, "Arthur G. Dove: Exhibition of Recent Paintings, 1938," March 29-May 10, 1938.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, "One Hundred and Thirty-Fourth Annual Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture," 1939.

New York, An American Place, "Arthur G. Dove: Exhibition of Oils and Temperas," April 10-May 17, 1939.

Cleveland Museum of Art, "Tenth Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting," June 13-July 14, 1940.

Washington DC, Phillips Collection, "Arthur Dove: A retrospective," September 20, 1997-January 4, 1998; traveled to Whitney Museum of American Art, January 15-April 12, 1998; Addison Gallery of American Art, April 25-July 12, 1998; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 2-October 4, 1998.

Washington, D.C., Hirshhorm Museum and Scultpure Garden, "Visual Music, 1900-2005", traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, February 13-May 22, 2005, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, June 23-September 11, 2005 (Washington, D.C. only).

Art Institute of Chicago, "America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s," June 5-September 18, 2016; travels to Paris, Musee de l'Orangerie, October 15, 2016-January 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, February 25-June 4, 2017, cat. 15.

Publication History

Ann Lee Morgan, "Arthur Dove: Life and Work with Catalogue Raisonne" (Associated University Press, 1984).

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 117.

Ownership History

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, New York; bequeathed through Georgia O'Keeffe to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1949.

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