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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Forms Follow Man

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Forms Follow Man


Mark Tobey

born Centerville, Wisconsin, 1890; died Basel, Switzerland, 1976

Tobey's title makes the claim that we—as individuals, societies, and cultures—are always bound up with the things that we create and value even as we slough them off, either at will or by some transformational or cataclysmic event.
Transparent and opaque watercolor on Crescent board
14 1/4 x 20 3/4 in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: The artist; to [Willard Gallery, New York, 1944-after 1946; inventory number 509]; the artist; sold for $300 to Seattle Art Museum, April 1950
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Twenty-Seventh Annual Exhibition of Northwest Artists, Oct. 1 - Nov. 2, 1941 [entries are limited to new work only, work created within the previous twelve months; hence, this work rightly dates to 1941, despite its 1943 date, added later].

New York, New York, Willard Gallery, Mark Tobey, Apr. 4 - 29, 1944. Text by Sidney Janis. Checklist no. 8 [dated 1942].

Portland, Oregon, Portland Museum of Art, Paintings by Mark Tobey, July 7 - Aug. 12, 1945 (San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sept. 8 - 30, 1945; Chicago, Illinois, Arts Club of Chicago, Feb. 7 - 27, 1946; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, Alger House, Mar. 1946). Introduction by Julia and Lyonel Feininger. Cat. no. 20 [lent by the Willard Gallery; dated 1942].

Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, Little Show of Work in Progress: Six Painters of the American Northwest, 1950 (East Lansing, Michigan, Michigan State University, 1950; Albion, Michigan, Albion College, 1950; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Museum of Cranbook Academy of Arts, 1951; Grand Rapids, Michigan, Grand Rapids Art Gallery, 1951; Saginaw, Michigan, Saginaw Museum, 1951; Flint, Michigan, Flint Institute of Arts, 1951; Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan, 1951; Bloomington, Illinois, Withers Public Library, 1951). {No catalogue?}

Chicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery of Art Interpretation, Mark Tobey Retrospective, Jan. 21 - Mar. 20, 1955. {there is a checklist—get from AIC}.

San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art, Art in the 20th Century: Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Signing of the U.N. Charter, 1955 {there is a catalogue—get from SFMoMA archives Box 18, no. 1955.002, p. 17.}

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, U.S.I.A. European and Pacific Exhibits: Eight American Artists, Jan. 10 - Feb. 3, 1957 (*traveled in the Pacific circuit to fifteen cities in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand: Seoul, Taegu, Tokyo, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Matsuyama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Manila, Wellington, Auckland, Victoria (Feb. 18- Mar. 11, 1958), Melbourne, and Sydney, 1957-1958). National Gallery of Victoria cat. no. 3 [dated 1943].

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Mark Tobey: A Retrospective Exhibition from Northwest Collections, Sept. 11 - Nov. 1, 1959 (Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum; Colorado Springs, Colorado, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center; Pasadena, California, Pasadena Art Museum; San Francisco, California, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, 1959-1960). Cat. no. 64, reproduced [dated 1941].

Paris, France, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Mark Tobey, Oct. 18 - Dec.1, 1961. Cat. no. 20, reproduced pl. 6 [dated 1942].

London, England, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Mark Tobey, Jan. - Feb., 1962. Cat. no. 14, p. 20, reproduced pl. V [dated 1941].

Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Mark Tobey, May 6 - June 6, 1962. Cat. no. 3 [dated 1941].

New York, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Mark Tobey, Sept. 12 - Nov. 4, 1962 (Cleveland, Ohio, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Dec. 11, 1962 - Jan. 13, 1963; Chicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 22 - Mar. 24, 1963). Text by William C. Seitz. Cat. no. 12, pp. 35, 107, reproduced p. 54 [dated 1941].

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Stedelijk Museum, Mark Tobey, 1966 (Hannover, Germany, Kestner-Gesellschaft, May 19 - June 26, 1966; Bern, Switzerland, Kunsthalle; Düsseldorf, Germany, Kunsthalle, 1966). Text by Wieland Schmied. Cat. no. 7, p. 40, reproduced [dated 1941].

Dallas, Texas, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Mark Tobey Retrospective, Mar. 20-Apr. 12, 1968. Cat. no. 15, reproduced [dated 1941].

Seattle, Washington, The Bon Marché, Mark Tobey: Paintings from Private Northwest Collectors, Apr. 23 - May 3, 1969. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Tobey’s 80; A Retrospective, Dec. 3, 1970 - Jan. 31, 1971. Text by Betty Bowen. Cat. no. 42, reproduced [dated 1941].

{Basel, Switzerland, Galerie Beyeler, Tobey, 1971. Text by John Russell. Cat. no. 3, reproduced p. 29.}

Düsseldorf, Germany, Städtische Kunsthalle, Surralität-Bildrealität, 1924-1974, Dec. 8, 1974 - Feb. 2, 1975 (Baden-Baden, West Germany, Staatliche Kunsthalle, In den unzähligen Bildern des Lebens, Feb. 14 - Apr. 13, 1975). Text by Jurgen Harten and Katharina Schmidt. Cat. no. 356, reproduced p. 151 [dated 1941].

Miami, Florida, The Art Gallery, Miami-Dade South Community College, Mark Tobey, 1930-1967: A Selection of Works from the Seattle Art Museum, Dec. 1, 1975 - Jan. 29, 1976. Cat. no. 9, reproduced p. 12 [dated 1941].

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Traditions, June 29 - Dec. 10, 1978. Text by Martha Kingsbury. No. cat. no., reproduced p. 22 [dated 1941].

Osaka, Japan, National Museum of Art, Pacific Northwest Artists and Japan, Oct. 2 - Nov. 28, 1982. Cat. no. 115, reproduced p. 87.

Los Angeles, Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, Visions of Inner Spaces, Dec. 15, 1987 - Jan. 31, 1988 (New Delhi, India, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mar. 15 - Apr. 3, 1988). No cat. no., reproduced pl. 14.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Light, Shadow, and Gesture: Paintings by Northwest Artists, Aug. 14, 1997 - Aug. 2, 1998. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, What It Meant to be Modern: Seattle Art at Mid Century, Oct. 15, 1999-Jan. 23, 2000. No cat. no., p. 36. [dated ca. 1941].

Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma Art Museum. Northwest Mythology: The Interactions of Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan, and Guy Anderson, May 3 - Aug. 10, 2003. Text by Sheryl Conkelton and Laura Landau. No cat. no., p. 166, reproduced p. 117 [dated ca. 1941].

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and The Mystical, June 19 - Sept. 7, 2014. Text by Patricia Junker. No cat. no., pp. 12-16, 58, reproduced p. 16, pl. 6.
Published ReferencesDevree, Howard. “From a Reviewer’s Notebook: Brief Comment on Some Recently Opened Group and One-Man Shows . . . ,” New York Times, April 9, 1944: p. X7.

“Forms Follow Man,” Interim, 2, no. 2 (1946): reproduced p. 33.

Annual Report of the Seattle Art Museum: Forty-fifth Year, 1950 (Seattle: Seattle Art museum, 1951), p. 15 [dated 1943].

Gonzales, Boyer. “The Visual Arts: Uniformly High Quality Marks U.S.I.A. Show at Museum,” Seattle Times, January 20, 1957: p. 54.

Rodman, Selden. Conversations with Artists. New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1957. Reproduced as "Form Follows Man", no page no.

Roberts, Colette. Mark Tobey. 2nd. Ed., New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1960; p. 12 (reproduced).

{Mizue, no. 689 (August 1962), reproduced.}

Hoffmann, Edith. "Bissière and Tobey in Amsterdam," in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 108, no. 758 (May 1966), pp. 277-279, illus. p. 279, no. 87

Schmeid,Wieland. Mark Tobey. New York: Harry N. Abrams for Meridian Books, 1966; reproduced p, 20.

{Fabbri, Dino. Storia della Pittura, Vol. 28 (1969): reproduced plate 20?}

“Seattle’s Pride,” Apollo 92, new series no. 106 (December 1970): reproduced plate VII, p. 491.

Price, Vincent. The Vincent Price Treasury of American Art. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Country Beautiful Corporation, 1972; pp. 254-255, reproduced p. 255.

Kingsbury, Martha and Sarah Clark. Northwest Traditions. Exh. cat. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1978; p. 22, reproduced.

{Encyclopedia of Painting and Sculpture (London: Mitchell Beazley, 1980) ?}

Seitz, William C. Abstract Expressionist Painting in America Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1983; reproduced p. 242 [dated 1941].

Dahl, Arthur L., et al. Mark Tobey: Art and Belief. Oxford:George Ronald, 1984; reproduced plate 34, p. 69.

Stella, Frank. Working Space. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1986; p. 123, reproduced fig. 39, p. 122.

Balken, Debra Bricker. Mark Tobey: Threading Light. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, 2017; pp. 34, 90, reproduced pl. 11, pp. 36-37 and detail, p. 208.

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