Mark Tobey  (American, 1890-1976) 

Mark Tobey (American, 1890–1976) is regarded as a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism. He is most famous for his so-called White Writing—an overlay of white or light-colored calligraphic symbols on an Abstract field, often composed of thousands of small, interwoven brushstrokes. This method gave rise to the type of “all-over” painting style made most famous by Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). While Tobey’s early works are Figural, his later paintings are increasingly Abstract and contemplative. In 1911, Tobey worked as an illustrator for fashion magazines in New York, and began to study Middle Eastern literature and Eastern philosophy, becoming a member of the Baha'i Faith. After working as an art teacher, he began travelling around the world, first to Europe, then to Persia, Shanghai, and Kyoto, where he visited a cloister and studied Zen painting, haiku poetry, and calligraphy.

In 1944, Tobey had his first solo exhibition in the Willard Gallery in New York, and then in 1951, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in an exhibition that also traveled to San Francisco, Seattle, and Santa Barbara. The exhibition led to his international success, and he then participated in the 1959 and 1964 documenta exhibitions in Kassel, Germany. In 1960, he returned to the United States and settled in Seattle, before moving to Basel, Switzerland, where he lived until his death in 1976. Tobey has had retrospectives at the Smithsonian Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, and the Foundation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland. His work can be found in most major museum collections in the United States and internationally, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Tate Gallery in London, and the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

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Artworks for sale (37)

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Mark Tobey, Composition


Mark Tobey

Auction: Apr 27, 2014
Perrin, Royere, Lajeunesse - Versailles Enchères
View Details | entire auction
Mark Tobey, Bale


Mark Tobey

Nicholas Gallery
Mark Tobey, Untitled


Mark Tobey

Hollis Taggart Galleries
Mark Tobey, Endless Paths


Mark Tobey
Endless Paths

Hachmeister Galerie
Mark Tobey, Travel Tobey


Mark Tobey
Travel Tobey

Jonathan Boos, LLC
Mark Tobey, Untitled I


Mark Tobey
Untitled I

Aaron Payne Fine Art
Mark Tobey, Senza titolo


Mark Tobey
Senza titolo

Matteo Lampertico - Arte Antica e Moderna
Mark Tobey, Untitled


Mark Tobey

Fromkin Fine Art
Mark Tobey, Confusion


Mark Tobey

Bethesda Fine Art | Margot Stein Gallery
Past auction results (2598)  View All
Mark Tobey, Composition aux cercles


Mark Tobey
Composition aux cercles, 1958
gouache and ink on paper


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Mark Tobey, Other Worlds II


Mark Tobey
Other Worlds II, 1961
tempera on paper laid on cardboard


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Mark Tobey, Untitled


Mark Tobey
Untitled, 1966
tempera and gouache on paper


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1890   Born in Centerville, WI, USA on December 11th
1906   His family moved to Hammond near Chicago; visited courses at the Art Institute, Chicago, IL
1906 - 1908   Studied under Frank Zimmerman and Professor Reynolds at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
1909   Worked as fashion-designer in Chicago, IL
1911   Moved to New York, still working as fashion-designer
1913 - 1917   Lived alternately in New York, NY and in Chicago; autodidactic artistic studies; has success as a portraitist
1922 - 1925   Studied calligraphy and composition under Teng Kwei, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
1926   Traveled to Akka and Haifa; studied Persian and Arabian literature
1927   Lived alternately in Seattle, Chicago and New York
1934   Travelled to China and Japan; spent time in a cloister of the Zen-Buddhism and studies Zen-painting and calligraphy
1935   Trips to Seattle and New York; back in South-England he created the first 'white writing'
1931 - 1938   Lived in England
1940   Studied music (flute, piano, composition); friendship with Lyonel Feininger
1940   Katherine Baker Memorial Award, Seattle Art Museum
1942   His painting 'Broadway' was honoured and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum, New York, NY
1942   Artists for Victory Prize
1956   Guggenheim International Award
1956   Honorary Member, National Institute of Arts and Letters
1957   Fine Arts Medal, American Institute of Architects
1958   First Prize for Painting, Biennale, Venice
1960   Moved to Basel
1961   First Prize for Painting, Carnegie International, Pittsburgh
1968   Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris
1970 - 1976   Lived and worked in Basel, Switzerland
1976   Died in Basel, Switzerland on April, 24th
2009   Synchronies: Undercurrrents in Postwar European and American Abstraction, Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA
2008   Auktion 27, Lehr, Auktionshaus und Galerie, Berlin
2008   Künstler der Galerie - Zeichnungen, Bilder, Skulpturen, Fotografien, Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
2007   Contemporary, Cool and Collected, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC, USA
Le Corps et son double, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France
The Passionate Gesture, Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA
Jan Bouman Collection, Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands
Shining Spirit: Westheimer Family Collection, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Pathways and Parallels: Roads to Abstract Expressionism, Hollis Taggart Galeries, New York, NY
American Modernists, University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY, USA
2006   La Tentation de l'Orient, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, France
Künstler der Galerie, Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
Wilfrid Moser/Mark Tobey, Galerie Carzaniga GmbH, Basel, Switzerland
Night Sounds: Nocturnal Visions of Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USA
Inner Worlds Outside, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
Collection 1, NMAO National Museum of Art Osaka, Japan
2005   Light Space, Hachmeister Galerie, Munster, Germany
Peintures et Sculptures, Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, Switzerland
Little Treasures from the Permanent Collection, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL, USA
2005   Internationale Zeichnungen, Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
2004   Galerie Pudelko, Bonn, Germany (solo)
An American Odyssey, 1950-1980 - Debating Modernism, Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; Centro de Arte de Salamanca, Spain; Kiosco Alfonso, La Coruna, Spain
Onbegrensd – Unbegrenzt - Roger Raveelmuseum, Machelen, Belgium
Chine - Occident ou l'aventure du signe. Michaux, Tobey, Degottex, Zao Wou-Ki, Shan Sa - Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès, Paris, France
Künstler der Galerie, Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany
El Expresionismo Abstracto Americano en las Colecciones Españolas, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, Segovia, Spain
The Edge of Tomorrow - Tobey, Price and Graves from the 1940’s, Museum of Art, University of Oregon; San José Museum of Art, CA, USA
2003   Unaussprechlich schön - Das mystische Paradies in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts - Kunsthalle Erfurt, Germany
Two Friends - Lyonel Feininger, Mark Tobey, Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York, NY
Northwest Mythologies - The Interactions of Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan and Guy Anderson, Tacoma Art Museum, WA, USA
La collection Jean Planque, Salle St. Jean, Hotel de Ville, Paris, France
Separated Colours of Hachmeister, Hachmeister Galerie, Munster, Germany
Acquisitions Nouvelles, Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, Switzerland
Abstract works on paper, autour de Mark Tobey, Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France
2002 - 2003   Mark Tobey - Smashing Forms and Mark Tobey and Friends, Seattle Art, WA, USA
2002   Tobey – Price – Graves, University of Oregon Museum of Art, OR, USA
Klänge des Inneren Auges. Mark Tobey – Morris Graves – John Cage, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; Museum Tacoma, Tacoma, WA, USA
Baukunst Galerie, Cologne, Germany (solo)
Mark Tobey - Bilder von 1940 bis 1975, BAUKUNST GALERIE, Cologne, Germany (solo)
2001 - 2002   Da Kandinsky a Pollock: La vertigine della non-forma, Museo Cantonale d'Arte Lugano, Switzerland
2001   Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany (solo)
Galerie Carzaniga + Uecker, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
Hachmeister Galerie, Munster, Germany (solo)
Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany (solo)
The spirituality of the void, Fundacion Bancaja, Valencia, Spain
Asian Influences I, Kurt Lidtke Galleries, Seattle, WA, USA
Hue, Schmidt Bingham Galleries, New York, NY
2000   Zen und die westliche Kunst, Museum Bochum, Germany
Kurt Lidtke Galleries, Seattle, WA, USA (solo)
Galerie Biedermann, Munich, Germany (solo)
Native American Influences on 1930s & 1940s Modernists, David FIndlay Jr. FIne Art, New York, NY
Cross-Currents in Modern Art, Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York, NY
1999   Galerie Carzaniga + Uecker, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany (solo)
Kurt Lidtke Galleries, Seattle, WA, USA (solo)
1998 - 1999   Closeness of Distance, Khmer Skulpturen und Mark Tobey Bilder, Emil Mirzakhanian, Milan, Italy and Hachmeister Galerie, Munster, Germany
1998   Kurt Lidtke Galleries, Seattle, WA, USA (solo)
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Baukunst Galerie, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1996   Luhring Augustine, New York, NY
1992 - 1993   Baukunst Galerie, Cologne, Germany
1991 - 1992   Galerie Lea Gredt, Luxemberg
1991   Valley Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, WA, USA
1990   Galerie Jeanne Bucher, FIAC, Paris, France
1977   "Mark Tobey Retrospective", Ruth S. Shaffner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA
1974   Retrospective, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian, Washington, DC, USA
1968   Retrospective, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX, USA
1967   Willard Gallery, New York, NY
1966   Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo)
1962   Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (solo)
1961   Retrospective, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, subsidiary of the Louvre, Paris, France
1952   film “Tobey Mark: Artist” debuted in the Venice Film Festival and Edinburgh Film Festival
1951   (first retrospective), California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA, USA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (group)
1945   Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, USA (solo)
2004    Heiner Hachmeister (ed.), Mark Tobey Light Space, Muenster 2004
1991    Heiner Hachmeister (ed.), Mark Tobey Werke / Oeuvres 1945-1975, Muenster 1991