Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paintings of Modest Scale but Ambitious Intent Mark Tobey Was Hailed Briefly in the Early '60S as America's Preeminent Painter. Now a New York Exhibition Offers a Fresh Look at the Work of This Late Pacific Northwest Artist, Which, Though Small in Size, Often Reflects Cosmic Concerns

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Paintings of Modest Scale but Ambitious Intent Mark Tobey Was Hailed Briefly in the Early '60S as America's Preeminent Painter. Now a New York Exhibition Offers a Fresh Look at the Work of This Late Pacific Northwest Artist, Which, Though Small in Size, Often Reflects Cosmic Concerns

Article excerpt

FROM roughly 1955 to 1965, Mark Tobey was the most highly regarded living American painter on the international scene.

Jackson Pollock may have been more famous, but Tobey (1890-1976) received the recognition that really counted - first prize for painting in the 1958 Venice Biennale, a retrospective exhibition by the Louvre (he was the first American so honored) in 1960, first prize in the 1961 Carnegie International, and a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1962.

In 1961, an English critic wrote, "Tobey is considered by prominent painters of the School of Paris, as well as by established European art dealers, to be the foremost living American artist."

Things changed dramatically after 1965, however, due primarily to the growing international impact of Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and a few other Americans.

Though still honored in many quarters, Tobey found his world stature diminishing. That circumstance did not, however, make him any the less creative or productive.

Significant evidence can be found in the Philippe Daverio Gallery's exhibition "Mark Tobey: Temperas, Watercolors and Monotypes." Ranging from 1953 to 1970, the 35 small- to medium-sized works here represent Tobey's late, open, "painterly" approach. None of his earlier and more famous "white writing" pieces are on view - although "Study for Mural, Olympia" (1958) reflects a similar aesthetic and his 1960 "Brown Calligraphy" is very close in spirit.

One wishes a few of his earlier pieces had been included. They would have added a significant note to the show and would have given younger viewers a better idea of Tobey's full range.

Older viewers will be aware of Tobey's post-World War II reputation as one of the two figures (the other being Morris Graves) who dominated the Pacific Northwest art scene for at least three decades. They will also remember Tobey's emergence to national and international prominence, and the occasional statement by one art professional or another that Pollock's "dribbling" technique owed a great deal to Tobey's "white writing. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.