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Manierre Dawson's education in civil engineering contributed to his early experiments with abstract visual language. Well versed in mathematics and trained to design two-dimensional plans that would translate into three-dimensional objects, Dawson here seems to use imaginary mathematical symbols (suggested by the title of the painting and by the grid of lines and the series of contained shapes) to arrive at a form of pure abstraction. Xdx is one of a series of small paintings executed by Dawson in 1910 that are probably the first completely abstract works created by an American artist.

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