Chicago-born Manierre Dawson (1887-1969) was a major early American modernist painter — perhaps the Windy City's most progressive spirit. It is generally believed that this civil engineer and self-taught artist achieved a non-objective abstraction with no knowledge of the activities of Kandinsky, whose work Dawson's resembles. He began painting in 1903 or 1904: nature studies that recall Whistler's "nocturnes" (Gedo, 1977). By 1906, he painted figural compositions, such as Figures on Pale Blue, that show the obvious influence of Arthur B. Davies. Aspidistra, from the same year, is a minimalist still-life, painted with great precision. The organic curves of the plant have an Art Nouveau elegance
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