Richard Pousette-Dart studied art at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. His parents also worked as artists, his mother a poet and his father a painter. Soon after finishing his studies, Pousette-Dart began creating small sculptures and filling his notebooks with poems, drawings, and small-scale oil paintings. Eastern philosophy and religion, as well as archaic forms, were among his main influences, and he saw in abstract art the possibility of moving away from reality and toward a new, mystical world. His intention was to capture the energy of the universe on canvas, and at times, he incorporated Surrealist elements in doing so, portraying the universe in asymmetrical, unpredictable and spontaneous kaleidoscopes.
In the 1940s, Pousette-Dart increasingly used allegories, metaphors and symbols that reflected his distaste for the war. In the 1950s, Pousette-Dart developed many paintings in white that are based on biomorphic forms and calligraphic fields. The artist was very devoted to the French Impressionists, whose ideas he translated into pointillist abstract paintings; a circle in the center of the canvas, for example, effected a magical light source. Starting in 1960, the artist began specializing in strong colors, and in the 1970s and 1980s, he began experimenting with various thicknesses of coloration and different dominant geometric forms.
Pousette-Dart taught at various New York Art Institutes, most notably Columbia University (1968) and the Art Students League (since 1980). In 1940 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired the painting “The Desert”, painted in the same year. Pousette-Dart had his first one-man exhibition in New York at “The Artists’ Gallery” in 1941 and at Guggenheim's “Art of this century” in 1947, going on to exhibit in other leading New York galleries. Pousette-Dart’s work was included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition “Contemporary American Painting” and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial in 1949. Additionally, he had several retrospective exhibitions and was included at the Venice Biennale in 1982. Pousette-Dart was recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the Tiffany Foundation grant in 1981. In 2007, his work was honored in a retrospective at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Venice.