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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)




Mark Tobey

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

Over the past fifteen years, my approach to painting has varied, sometimes being dependent on brush-work, sometimes on lines, dynamic white strokes in geometric space. . . . The road has been a zig-zag out of old civilizations, seeking new horizons through meditation and contemplation. My sources of inspiration have gone from those of my native Middle West to those of microscopic worlds. . . . Pure abstraction would mean a type of painting completely unrelated to life, which is unacceptable to me. I have sought to make my painting "whole" but to attain this I have used a whirling mass.

 Mark Tobey, 1955
Opaque watercolor and oil on paperboard
39 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. (100.3 x 74.9 cm)
Overall h.: 41 1/2 in.
Overall w.: 31 1/2 in.
Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection
Provenance: [Willard Gallery, New York]; sold to Virginia Prentice Bloedel (1929-2020), 1953 (Mrs. Bagley Wright); by gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright, to Seattle Art Museum, 1962
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Willard Gallery, Mark Tobey, Apr. 1 - May 2, 1953.

United States Information Agency, Eight American Artists, organized and exhibited at Seattle Art Museum, 1957 (Copenhagen; Frankfurt; Berlin; Nurenburg; Munich; Hamburg; Essen; Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Nov. 8 - Dec. 7, 1957; York; Bordeaux; Paris; St. Etienne, 1957-58).

Kassel, Germany, Documenta II, Kunst Nach 1945 Internationale Ausstellung, July 11 - Oct. 11, 1959 (New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1959).

Seattle, Washington, World's Fair, Fine Arts Pavilion, Seattle Art Museum, Mark Tobey, 1962.

Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, 20th Century American and European Paintings and Sculpture, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright, 1964.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Tobey's 80: A Retrospective Exhibition From Northwest Collectors, Dec. 3, 1970 - Jan. 31, 1971.

Spokane, Washington, Expo '74, Our Land, Our Sea, Our Water, 1974.

New York, New York, M. Knoedler, Inc., Mark Tobey Retrospective, Apr. 10 - May 1, 1976.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Traditions, June 29 - Dec. 10, 1978 (Des Moines, Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, Mar. 19 - Apr. 29, 1979).

Osaka, Japan, The National Museum of Art, Pacific Northwest Artists and Japan, Oct. 2 - Nov. 28, 1982 (Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum).

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mark Tobey: City Paintings, Mar. 18 - June 17, 1984.

Berlin, West Germany, Berlinische Galerie, Stationen Der Moderne, Sept. 25, 1988 - Jan. 6, 1989.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection of Modern Art, Mar. 4 - May 5, 1999.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, What It Meant to Be Modern: Seattle Art at Mid-Century, Oct. 15, 1999 - Jan. 23, 2000.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle, Oct. 23, 2020 - Jan. 18, 2021.
Published ReferencesAmsterdam (Netherlands) Stedelijk Museum "Mark Tobey" Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1966

Barañano Letamendía, Kosme María de and Bärmann, Matthias "Mark Tobey" Barcelona: Madrid: Bambit; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 1997

Choay, Françoise "Mark Tobey" Paris: F. Hazan, 1961

Foster/White Gallery "Mark Tobey" Seattle: Foster/Richard White Gallery, 1973

Giese, Lucretia H. "Mark Tobey's 1939 Murals for the John A. Baillargeons: A Transition" Archives of American Art Journal, Vol. 23, No. 2 (1983), pp. 3-12

Michelson, Annette "Mark Tobey" Lausanne: Galerie Alice Pauli, 1965

"Collection of Mr. and Mrs. C. Bagley Wright: Twentieth Century American and European Paintings and Sculpture," Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum, Nov. 8-Dec. 6, 1964, no. 58.

Phillips Collection "Mark Tobey" Washington, D.C.: Phillips Collection, 1962

Roberts, Colette (Lévy) "Mark Tobey" New York: Grove Press, 1960

Seitz, William Chapin "Mark Tobey" New York, Museum of Modern Art; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. 1962. Exh. Cat. of an exhibit held at the Museum of Modern Art, Sept. 12 - Nov. 4, 1962, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Dec. 121, 1962-Jan. 13, 1963, and the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 22-Mar. 24, 1963: p. 107-110

Tobey, Mark "Mark Tobey" Basel: [Galerie] Beyeler, 1971

Tobey, Mark "Mark Tobey" Paris: Musee des arts decoratifs, 1961. Exh. Cat. for a retrospective, 18 October - 1 December, 1961 Palais du Louvre, Pavillon de Marsan.

Tobey, Mark "Japanese Traditions and American Art" College Art Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Autumn, 1958) pp. 20-24

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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