Trained as an architect, Manierre Dawson was self-taught as a painter. His abstract paintings were among the first nonobjective works produced in the United States. Following a six-month tour of Europe, Dawson settled in Chicago, where he reinterpreted the classical and modern art he saw on his travels. After purchasing a fruit orchard in Michigan, the demands of running his farm limited his ability to paint. He later enjoyed a productive period as a sculptor in the 1940s and 1950s.