13 The crops were left to dry and rot. There was no one to tend them.
Arthur Dove (1880–1946) and Lawrence were both represented by Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery, and they shared a commitment to a new American modernist style. Dove's Morning Sun and Electric Peach Orchard and Lawrence’s Panel 13 illustrate the similarities and differences between the two artists’ styles.
In these representative works, both artists utilize modernist sensibilities—the simplification of form and compositional elements such as line and color to produce an almost musical rhythm. In Morning Sun and Panel 13, both artists play with the sun’s rays and how they reflect on the landscape below, with Dove’s being a warm glow cast on the field while Lawrence’s stylized rays highlight the barren landscape. Similarly, the trees in Electric Peach Orchard and dying crops in Panel 13 are overly simplified, with just a hint of form and color to identify them. Both artists use wavy lines to covey the undulating terrain, giving the ground heightened rhythm and musicality.
While Dove’s compositions are resplendent with color, fertile fields, and a seemingly endless energy and upward movement, Lawrence’s landscape is more subdued, due to the fact that he is depicting an untended, rotting field—a victim of the migration North. Stylistically, Dove’s rays seem more natural and ebullient as they spew from the sun every which way, while Lawrence’s are more geometric, calculated, and cubist-inspired, creating a studied, somber effect. However, Lawrence imbues a bit of hope, with flashes of green, yellow, and red earth in the central golden ray. This small, fertile patch could be a glimpse into what once was, or a look to the future for those who had previously tended the fields. Throughout the panels, Lawrence tries to invoke a sense of optimism even in the most bleak of landscapes or situations.