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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

E Pluribus Unum

Photo: Paul Macapia

E Pluribus Unum


Mark Tobey

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

E Pluribus Unum: “Out of the many, one.” The Latin phrase appears on the Great Seal of the United States as a reference to the idea of democracy. In Tobey’s mind, the term applied to the character of the modern American city, too—especially to Seattle, which grew ever more diverse in the war years. Nowhere is Seattle’s mix of cultures on more prominent public display than at Pike Place Market, which serves as a crossroads for all the peoples of the region.

Opaque watercolor on paper mounted on paperboard
19 3/4 x 27 1/4 in. (50.2 x 69.2 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Thomas D. Stimson
Provenance: [The Willard Gallery, New York,]; sold to Emma Baillargeon Stimson (Mrs. Thomas Stimson, 1887-1976), as acting director of the Seattle Art Museum, and for the museum, 1943
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryNew York, Willard Gallery, Mark Tobey, Apr. 4-29, 1944. Checklist no. 16 [dated 1943].

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Contemporary American Painting, Apr.-July, 1945. {No catalogue?}.

Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Mark Tobey: Ten Years of His Painting, Sept. 8-30, 1945. (San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1945; Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1946). {No catalogue?}.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Fourteen Americans, Sept. 9-Dec. 8, 1946(Poughkeepsie, New York, Vassar College, Jan. 5-26, 1947; Palm Beach, Florida, Society of the Four Arts, Feb. 7-Mar. 7, 1947; Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Modern Art School, Mar. 20-Apr. 17, 1947; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, May 1-June 1, 1947; Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, June 15-30, 1947). Text by Dorothy C. Miller and statements by the artists. Cat. no. 159, pp. 70, 80, reproduced p. 70 [dated 1943].

Utica, New York, Munson-Williams Proctor Institute, Ten Painters of the Pacific Northwest, Oct. 1947-Mar. 1948 [circuit dates] (Andover, Massachusetts, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy; Albany, New York, Albany Institute of History and Art; Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery; Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore Art Museum). Text by Harris K. Prior. Cat. no. 42, reproduced p. 14 [dated 1943].

San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, in association with the Western Association of Art Museums, Paintings by Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan [also referred to as Trio], Feb. 9-Mar. 9, 1950 (circut, 1950: Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma Art League; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum; Vancouver, British Columbia, University of British Columbia; circuit, continued, 1951: Vancouver, British Columbia, Vancouver Art Gallery; Victoria, British Columbia, Victoria Art Center of Greater Victoria). {No catalogue?}.

Bloomington, Illinois, Withers Public Library, Northwest Artists, 1951. {No catalogue?}.

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Mark Tobey: Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Mar. 31-May 6, 1951. Text by Jermayne MacAgy. No cat. no. [dated 1943] (Seattle, Henry Gallery, May 20-June 27, checklist no. 55; Santa Barbara, California Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Aug. 16-Sept. 9, 1951; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Oct. 4-Nov. 4, 1951. Text by Jermayne MacAgy. Cat. no. 30).

Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery, Expressionism in American Painting, May 10-June 29, 1952. Text by Bernard Myers. Cat. no. 44, reproduced fig. 44, p. 44 [dated 1943].

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery of Art Interpretation, Mark Tobey Retrospective, Jan. 21-Mar. 20, 1955 {checklist available at AIC}.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Mark Tobey: A Retrospective Exhibition from Northwest Collections, Sept. 11-Nov. 1, 1959. (no dates published for circuit: Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Dec. 1959-Jan. 1960; Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Jan.-Feb. 1960; Pasadena, California, Pasadena Art Museum, Feb.-Mar. 1960; San Francisco: M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Mar.-Apr. 1960). Text by Edward B. Thomas. Cat. no. 77 [dated 1942].

Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Mark Tobey, Oct. 18-Dec. 1, 1961. Cat. no. 25, reproduced pl. 9 (travleled to: London, Whitechapel Gallery, Mark Tobey: Retrospective Exhibition, Paintings and Drawings, 1925-1961, Jan. 31-Mar. 4, 1962. Cat. no. 16, p. 21, reproduced pl. VI; Brussels, Belgium, Palais des Beaux Arts, Oct. 18,1961- {date?} 1962. {No catalogue?}.

Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Mark Tobey, May 6-June 6, 1962. Cat. no. 6,

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Mark Tobey, Sept. 12-Nov. 4, 1962 (Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Dec. 11, 1962-Jan. 13, 1963; Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 22-Mar. 24, 1963). Text by William C. Seitz. Cat. no. 20, p. 107, reproduced p. 32.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Stedelijk Museum, Mark Tobey: Works, 1933-1966, Mar. 19-May 8, 1966. Cat. no. 8, reproduced pl. 8 ( Hannover, Germany, Kestner-Gesellschaft, May 19-June 26, 1966. Cat. no. 8. reproduced pl. 8; Bern Switzerland, the Kunsthalle, July 9-Sept. 4, 1966; Dusseldorf, Germany, Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Sept. 16-Oct. 23, 1966; {Basel, Switzerland, Galerie Beyeler}).

Spokane, Washington, Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum, Mark Tobey Retrospective, Mar. 8 - Apr. 7, 1968 {No catalogue?}.

Chicago, Arts Club of Chicago, The Crowd, Oct. 28-No. 29, 1969. Cat. no. 39, reproduced pl. 39.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Tobey's 80: A Retrospective, Dec. 3, 1970-Jan 31, 1971. Text by Betty Bowen. Cat. no. 43, reproduced pl. 43.

Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum, A Sense of Place--The Artist and the American Land, {dates?}, 1973. Cat. no. 221, Vol. II, pp. 23, 63.

Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, Tribute to Mark Tobey, June 7-Sept. 8, 1974 (Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Sept. 27-Nov. 10, 1974; Saint Louis, Missouri, Saint Louis Art Museum, {dates?}1974-1975). Text by Joshua C. Taylor. Cat. no. 2, reproduced.

Düsseldorf, West Germany, Stadtische Kunsthalle, Surrealitat-Bildrealitat, 1924-1974, Dec. 6, 1974-Feb. 14, 1975 (Baden Baden, West Germany, Staatliche Kunsthalle). {Catalogue?}.

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

Miami, Florida, The Art Gallery, Miami-Dade South, Mark Tobey, 1930-1967: A Selection of Works from the Seattle Art Museum, Dec. 1, 1975-Jan. 29, 1976. Text by Willis F. Woods. Cat. no. 10, p. 7, reproduced p. 21, pl. 10.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Modern Art Pavilion, Tribute to Zoë Dusanne, Mar. 24-May 8, 1977. {No catalogue?}.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Themes in American Painting, Oct. 1-Nov. 30, 1977. Text by J. Gray Sweeney. Cat. no. 99, pp. 198-199, reproduced p. 198.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Traditions, June 29-Dec. 10, 1978 (Des Moines, Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, Mar. 19-Apr. 29, 1979). Text by Martha Kingsbury. No. cat. no., p. 106, not reproduced.

Düsseldorf, West Germany, Stadtische Kunsthalle, American Art Between the Wars, June 10-Aug. 5, 1979 (Zurich, Switzerland, Kunsthaus, Aug. 23-Oct. 21, 1979; Brussels, Belgium, Palais des Beaux Arts, Nov. 15-Dec. 31, 1979). {Catalogue?}.

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Tobey and the Public Market, Oct.-Nov. 1981. No catalogue.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mar. 8-June 17, 1984. Text by Eliza E. Rathbone. Cat. no. 14, pp. 43, 49, reproduced p. 43.

Bremen, Germany, Kunsthalle Bremen, Klange des inneren Auges: John Cage, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves [Sounds of the Inner Eye: John Cage, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves], Feb. 10-Apr. 14, 2002 (Tacoma, Washington, Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art, July 6-Oct. 6, 2002). Text ed. Wulf Herzogenrath and Andres Kreul. No cat. no., reproduced p. 59, fig. 5 and p. 130.

Seattle, 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., p. 58, reproduced p. 59, pl. 26.

Published ReferencesIn chronological order:

Riley, Maude. "Tobey's White Writing." Art Digest 18, no. 13 (April 1, 1944): p. 19.

"The Passing Shows." Art News 43, no. 5 (April 15-30, 1944): p. 25, reproduced.

"Collector's Corner." Art News 44, no. 2 (Mach. 1-14, 1945): p. 28, reproduced.

Fuller, Richard E. The Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1946 {?}; p. 29, reproduced.

Callahan, Kenneth. "Pacific Northwest." Art News 45, no. 5 (July 1946): reproduced p. 24.

Sunley, Rober. "Fourteen American Artists." Critique (October 1946) [clipping in Willard Gallery Scrapbook, Archives of American Art, microfilm reel N69-188, frame 62].

Coates, Robert. "The Art Galleries." The New Yorker, October 13, 1951: p. 98.

{The Diplomat (August 1957): p. 23, reproduced.}

Kochnitzky, Leon. "Mark Tobey." Quadram 4 (1957): p. 19, reproduced.

"A Seattle Painter Wins Top European Prize." Life (July 21, 1958): p. 52, reproduced.

Hunter,Sam. American Art of the 20th Century. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1973; p. 211, reproduced fig. 380.

Watt, Alexander. "Paris Letter: Mark Tobey." Art in America, no. 4 (1961): p. 112, reproduced.

Ahlander, Leslie Judd. "Tobey's 'White Writing' at the Phillips." Washington Post, May 13, 1962.

Fried, Michael. "White Writing and Pop Art." Art Magazine 36, no. 7 (April 1962): p. 26, reproduced.

Tobey, Mark. Mark Tobey: The World of a Market. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1964; reproduced pl. 5.

Russell, John. "Other Worldliness and a Penetrating Eye." Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, May 2, 1976.

Russell, John. "Street Life by Mark Tobey--And a Decade of Drawings." New York Times, April 1, 1984: p. H31, reproduced.

Taylor, Joshua C. "Looking at Tobey's Pictures." Mark Tobey: Art and Belief, ed. Arthur L. Dahl. Oxford, England: George Ronald 1984; p. 28, reproduced p. 26, pl. 8.

Seitz, William C. Abstract Expressionist Painting in America. (1955). Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press for the National Gallery of Art, 1989; p. 36, reproduced pl. 250.

Paul Cummings. "Mark Tobey and the Quest for the Luminous." Mark Tobey: Paintings (1920-1960). Exh. cat. New York: Yoshii Gallery, 1994; p. 12, reproduced p. 13, fig. 5.

Winther-Tamaki, Bert. "Mark Tobey, White Writing for a Janus-Faced America." Word & Image 13, no. 1 (January-March, 1997): pp. 77-91 {get reference to E. Plurbus Unum}.

Winther-Tamaki, Bert. In the Encounter of Nations: Japanese and American Artists in the Early Postwar Years. Honolulu, Hawai'i: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001; pp. 52-53, reproduced p. 53, fig. 11.

Farr, Sheila. James Martin: Art Rustler at the Rivoli. Exh. cat. La Conner, Washington: Museum of Northwest Art in association with University of Washington Press, 2001; p. 22, reproduced p. 23.

George, Hardy S. "The Proximity of the Yin and Yang to the Sublime and Comic in the Westheimer Family Collection." Shining Spirit: Westheimer Family Collection. Exh. cat. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 2007; p. 11, reproduced fig. 1.

Reed, Christopher. "E Pluribus Discrepantia: Mark Tobey's American Modernism," American Art 30, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 21-27.

Balken, Debra Bricker. Mark Tobey: Threading Light. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with the Addison Gallery of American Art, 2017; p. 60, reproduced p. 61, pl. 25.

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