Henrietta Mary Shore ( American, born Canada, 1880 - 1963 )

c. 1922
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General Description

Waterfall is a remarkable product from one of the most innovative periods of Henrietta Shore’s long career. These “semi-abstractions,” as she called them, visually interpreted the natural world into its most essential and abbreviated forms and were an attempt to convey in a symbolic way the underlying spiritual forces she sensed rather than a literal transcription of the visual phenomena she observed. In Waterfall, pure line and an interplay of positive and negative shapes laid down with the sheer application of pigment are the means the artist employed to render visible the dynamic power of the eternal. Color is the emotional key she wielded to unlock the visual impact of the whole. Born in Toronto, the majority of Shore’s artistic training was acquired in the United States, most significantly under Robert Henri in New York. After several years in California, she returned to New York City in 1920 and, forsaking narrative subject matter and the loaded-brush paint application she had learned from Henri, developed the stripped-down modernist approach demonstrated in Waterfall. When her semi-abstractions debuted in a New York gallery in January of 1923, they were widely discussed by critics who compared them with—and at times preferred them to—works by Georgia O’Keeffe then on view at another gallery across town.