Tyler Green argues that Manierre Dawson was the first american abstract painter, and thus Dawson's work is a glaring omission from the exhibition Inventing Abstraction: 1910 - 1925 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on view through April 15, 2013.
Green reports that Dawson "started painted abstractions in 1910, just after he’d joined the Chicago architecture firm Holabird and Roche. At the time, Dawson seems not to have had any awareness of the European or the fledgling American avant-garde, excepting possibly a familiarity with Cezanne. That summer he left for a year-long grand tour of Europe and found himself more interested in art than in architecture. He soon left Holabird and Roche to devote most of his time to painting and to running a Michigan fruit farm. After being fairly prolific in the 1910s, Dawson produced relatively little in the 1920s, almost nothing in the 1930s, only to spend the 1940s and 1950s exploring reliefs and sculptures. Dawson’s is far from the typical modernist story."