Mark Tobey

Mark Tobey
Forest Cathedral, 1955
White Journey, 1956
Night Flight, 1958
Ritual – Fire, 1960
Oncoming White, 1972
Forest Cathedral, 1955
Add to favorites 

Currently not on show

Mark Tobey
Forest Cathedral, 1955

Tempera on paper on cardboard, 53 x 39 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

White Journey, 1956
Add to favorites 

Currently not on show

Mark Tobey
White Journey, 1956

Coloured paste on paper on Pavatex, 113.5 x 89.5 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

The key to Tobey’s artistic and personal fulfilment is to be found in the link between painting and meditation. Both offered him ways of transcending the material condition of things, of bringing alive the transfiguration of the sensuous world into incandescently luminous spirituality. In White journey, pictorial space becomes meditative space that the artist fills with delicately traced brushstrokes which fan out in all directions.

Night Flight, 1958
Add to favorites 

Currently not on show

Mark Tobey
Night Flight, 1958

Tempera on cardboard, 30 x 22.5 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

Ritual – Fire, 1960
Add to favorites 

Currently not on show

Mark Tobey
Ritual – Fire, 1960

Tempera on cardboard, 21 x 29.5 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

Oncoming White, 1972
Add to favorites 

Currently not on show

Mark Tobey
Oncoming White, 1972

Oil on canvas, 241 x 203 cm
Photo: Cantz Medienmanagement, Ostfildern

As in White journey, the pictorial space in Oncoming white is also a space of meditation. In this picture, the inner peripheral zone serves as a barely perceptible third frame, lending cohesion to the tissue of the intricately painted web of lines. Towards the centre the web becomes diaphanously fragile, almost brittle, and stands emblematically for a notion of filled space. It is a painterly journey from generality to particularity, from the margins to the centre, from a measurable surface to unfathomable depths.

Mark Tobey
Mark Tobey

1890, Centerville, Wisconsin – 1976, Basel

The portrait artist, fashion illustrator and trained industrial designer is regarded as an important precursor of American Abstract Expressionism. Tobey described his distinctive calligraphic style as a kind of “moving line”. It is characterized by the frequent use of leaf-like forms and structures, crystalline networks of fine lines and above all by undulating, interconnecting and overlapping movement. His approach would have been quite unthinkable without the new perspective upon the states and portrayal of nature that was elaborated by the Impressionists, and by Claude Monet in particular, in the 1920s. Tobey placed great importance upon nature and derived considerable inspiration from natural forms.
Like many other young American painters of his day, his art was considerably influenced by the development of ‘all-over’ styles of painting. However the meditative, quiet radiance of Tobey’s ‘white writing’ that gives many of his paintings a vibrancy and an aura of happiness, clearly sets him apart from Pollock and other painters of the New York School who were engaged with gestural abstraction. Encouraged by his participation in documenta II and III (1959 and 1964) and the purchase of 40 works by Ernst Beyeler, Tobey settled in Basel in 1960 and remained here until his death in 1976.

“I like best to see in nature what I want in my painting. When we can find the abstract in nature we find the deepest art.” Mark Tobey

Station