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Who painted Polka Dots first? No, it's not Damien Hirst ;-)

While working on the POST about Sophie Taeuber-Arp, I read several articles about polka dots and fashion but I noticed that few articles mentioned her input in the story of polka dots in fine art. So here is a little summary :-)

Kazimir Malevich Black Circle

The history of dots and circles in fine art could be traced back to pointillism but I will start the story with Kazimir Malevich and his Black Circle painted in 1915 which is considered as the first artwork with "just" a circle.

In the thirties, some artists were inspired by circles such as Oskar Fischingeropen and László Moholy-Nagy.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was among them and she created several paintings inspired by the circle which represented for her the sum of all forms. She started with compositions, circles on a black background and then Moving Circles in 1933 or Dynamic Circles in 1934 on a white background.

From then on, many artists have been using this geometric shape and the fifties and sixties were prolific: Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Vasarely and of course Yayoi Kusama, the queen of polka dots.

I do not forget Roy Lichtenstein but he used dots as a mean not as an end in itself so I will leave him a bit aside of this story.

In the late eighties, Damien Hirst took the theme and turned it into a brand. His first spot paintings are from 1986 and the geometrical ones from 1988.

Damien Hirst Untilted (with black dot) 1988
Damien Hirst Untilted (with black dot) 1988

Polka dots are still in fashion with artists and Bansky could not miss this opportunity to mock them...

If you want to see more polka dot inspired art check out this link.

To my knowledge, Sophie Tauber-Arp is the first artist to have painted aligned polka dots on a white background. Do you know of any before her ? Let me know !

And to finish with, my POST about Sophie Taeuber-Arp :-)


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