About us
Artists Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart Photo

Richard Pousette-Dart

American Draftsman, Painter, and Sculptor

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: June 8, 1916 - St. Paul, Minnesota

Died: October 25, 1992 - Suffern, New York

Richard Pousette-Dart Timeline

"I strive to express the spiritual nature of the Universe. Painting for me is a dynamic balance and wholeness of life; it is mysterious and transcending, yet solid and real."


The painter Richard Pousette-Dart was the youngest member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. His early work, marked by thick black contour lines and primitive themes, gave way to a freer abstract style in the 1940s, and to light-infused, pointillist paintings in the 1950s and 1960s. Although initially associated with the classic Abstract Expressionist angst, his work maintained a more transcendent and positive quality to it, increasingly focused on the expression of spiritual ideals in paint and color.

Key Ideas

Pousette-Dart's paintings are imbued with a sense of the spiritual and the mythic, evoking primordial forms and scenes.
The artist's experiments with abstraction began with abstracted animal shapes, but soon evolved into formal explorations of textural handling, built-up surfaces, and intense color.
Despite being present for the iconic Irascibles photo by Nina Leen in Life magazine, Pousette-Dart was one of the more independent artists within Abstract Expressionism, leaving New York City at the height of the movement and pursuing an optimistic, life-affirming art style to the end.


Richard Pousette-Dart Photo


Richard Pousette-Dart was born on June 8, 1916 to educated, artistically-inclined parents in St. Paul, Minnesota. The family soon moved to Valhalla, New York, where Pousette-Dart spent most of his childhood. His father, Nathaniel Pousette, was an artist, collector, and writer, and his mother, Flora Dart, a musician, pianist, and poet. His early interests in art and music were strongly encouraged by his parents.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Richard Pousette-Dart Biography Continues

Important Art by Richard Pousette-Dart

The below artworks are the most important by Richard Pousette-Dart - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Animal Head (c. 1936-8)
Artwork Images

Animal Head (c. 1936-8)

Artwork description & Analysis: This work, an abstracted study of an animal head, shows Pousette-Dart's interest in tribal and Jungian themes of confrontation and sacrifice. These themes are the main focus of his work in the 1930s and early 40s. The oval shape is repeated and modified to suggest eye, horn, egg, yolk, and fetus, all surrounded by his characteristic black contour line.

Oil on canvas - Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY

Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental (1941-2)
Artwork Images

Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental (1941-2)

Artwork description & Analysis: Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental is a large painting, considered by many to be the first mural-scale work of Abstract Expressionism. Evoking at once musical notes, cell-like squiggles, and the orbits of a planetary system, the work suggests the universal forms that inhere in the world at large. While the spiritual theme and many of the shapes are familiar from his 1930s work, Pousette-Dart's style has become more painterly and textured.

Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Chavade (1951)
Artwork Images

Chavade (1951)

Artwork description & Analysis: Pousette-Dart created a number of works in the early 1950s like this one, using pencil and white paint on canvas or board. Originally prompted by a tight budget, the approach shows Pousette-Dart exploring an ethereal side to the abstract grids of Picasso and his New York School heirs. One can discern the characteristic ovals, eye-shapes, and arcs, but rendered in a softer and more --- manner.

Oil and pencil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

More Richard Pousette-Dart Artwork and Analysis:

Illumination Gothic (1958) Golden Presence (1961) Now a Turning Orb (1987-90)

By submitting the above you agree to The Art Story privacy policy.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Richard Pousette-Dart
Interactive chart with Richard Pousette-Dart's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart


Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky
Adolph GottliebAdolph Gottlieb
Joan MirĂ³Joan MirĂ³

Personal Contacts

John GrahamJohn Graham
Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud
Carl JungCarl Jung


Primitivism in ArtPrimitivism in Art
African ArtAfrican Art
Byzantine ArtByzantine Art

Influences on Artist
Richard Pousette-Dart
Richard Pousette-Dart
Years Worked: 1934 - 1991
Influenced by Artist


Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Adolph GottliebAdolph Gottlieb
Clyfford StillClyfford Still
Mark RothkoMark Rothko

Personal Contacts


Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting

Useful Resources on Richard Pousette-Dart






The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.


Richard Pousette-Dart: The New York School and Beyond Recomended resource

By Robert Mattison, Martica Sawin, John Yau Pepe Karmel, Sam Hunter, and Joanne Kuebler

Richard Pousette-Dart

By Lowery Stokes Sims and Stephen Polcari

Richard Pousette-Dart

By David Rimanelli
March 2012

Scenes of the East River by Richard Pousette-Dart

The Examiner
December 5, 2011

A Little Abstract, a Little Eccentric, and More Recomended resource

By Roberta Smith
The New York Times
August 17, 2007

Richard Pousette-Dart

By Jim Long
The Brooklyn Rail
December 10, 2005

in pop culture

The Pousette-Dart Band

Richard Pousette-Dart's son Jon founded the Pousette-Dart Band with friends in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1973. Playing throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the group used paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart as cover art for some of their albums.

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]

Did we succeed in explaining the art to you?
If Yes, please tell others about us: