Galerie des Modernes

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Mark Tobey

Abstract expressionist

(Winsconsin, 1890 - Bâle, 1976)

Mark Tobey (1870-1976) was an American abstract painter nicknamed "the old master of young American painting". His studies in Chinese calligraphy and Zen painting led him towards a meditative style of painting based on a profusion of signs. A former student at the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to New York where he worked as a portrait painter and fashion designer. An eternal wanderer, he roamed France, the Catalogue, Greece, Beirut, Constantinople, Haifa... where he developed a passion for Arabic and Persian writing.

His meeting with the Chinese painter Teng Kuei led him to the art of calligraphy. His travels also shaped his creative work, and when he arrived in England in 1935, he adopted a white script. According to the critics, this series of works, "Broadway", "Welcome Hero" and "Broadway Norm", influenced the artist Jackson Pollock.

He had his first exhibition in 1917 at the Knoedler gallery. In 1929, Alfred Barr exhibited his work at the MOMA in New York, and in 1958 the Seattle Art Museum devoted a retrospective to him. He exhibited in the most prestigious venues, including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, the Guggheim Museum in New York and numerous galleries in the United States. His career has been crowned with distinctions: the Guggenheim International Award in 1956, the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale, first prize at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. He painted a fresco for the Washington National Library.

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