The first American abstract movement had lasted only about a decade. From about 1920 until the early 1930's, little abstract art was produced in the United States. The dominant schools--regionalism, the American scene, the social painters--were not only representational but concerned almost entirely with native subject matter. But abstract art, like music, is an international language, without references to specific content or place. The cultural nationalism of the 1920's was hostile to it, as was the insistence on social content. Its few adherents were like members of an underground movement.
Of its pioneers, only Dove in this country and Bruce in France remained faithful. But a few of their fellow modernists turned toward abstraction about 1930. Alfred Maurer in his last few years experimented with geometric patterns. Another early fauve, Arthur B. Carles, who had evolved a decorative art of still life and flowers, transformed the same motifs into luxuriant fauvist abstractions. Carles loved full-blooded color and the sensuous pleasure of handling paint, and his exuberant chromatic compositions were rich in pigment and spontaneous brushwork.
Of a younger generation, Stuart Davis developed his strong individual art without early foreign experience. As a student of Henri he had seen the Armory Show--"the greatest single influence I have experienced in my work." After a post-impressionistic phase, he began in the 1920's to geometrize ob-