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Mark Tobey (1890 - 1976)


Mark Tobey - Twirling Man Study
"Twirling Man Study"
Conte crayon and ink on paper
10 1/2 x 8 1/4

Mark Tobey is widely considered the most important of the “Big Four” artists from the mid-20th century’s Northwest School of painting. Born in Centerville, Wisconsin, Tobey took to art at a young age. By 1911, at only twenty years old, the artist was already working as an illustrator for McCall’s in New York. Soon, Tobey was exhibiting throughout the city.

 In 1922, he moved to Seattle, where he studied Eastern art and philosophy as he began to explore what would become his signature style of abstract expressionism, which he called “white writing.” Along with artists Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, and Morris Graves, Tobey founded the Northwest School – recognizable for its rich use of the region’s iconography, mixed with Asian and Native American stylistic elements, combined to form a unique aesthetic of rhythmic abstraction.

 Since the early 20th century, Tobey’s work has been exhibited around the world, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, and Paris’ famed Louvre. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including First prize at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; The Venice Biennale Painting Prize; The Guggenheim International Award; and the title of Commander, Arts and the Letters of the French Government.