Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mark Tobey

(Mark Tobey at Geyserville Baha'i school in 1944)

Photo taken by Arthur L. Dahl

The American painter, poet, and composer Mark Tobey was born in Centerville, Wisconsin in December 11, 1890. Tobey was the youngest of 4 siblings whose parents were George and Emma Tobey. George Tobey, Mark's father, was a capenter and house builder. Mark Tobey was mostly self-taught but did study at the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois. In 1918, Tobey converted to Bahaism. His Persian beliefs had a great impact on his life and his art as the following quote from Tobey explains:

"The root of all religions from the Baha'i point of view, is based on the theory that man will gradually come to understand the unity of the world and the oneness of mankind. It teaches that all prohets are one- that science and religion are based on two great powers which must be balanced if man is to become mature. I feel my work has been influenced by these beliefs. I've tried to decentralize and interpenetrate so that all parts of a painting are of a related value..Mine are the Orient, the Occident, science, religion, cities, space, and writting a picture."

Mark Tobey traveled all around the world and in one of his travels he was introduced to Chinese caligraphy and Arab and Persian writing. Because of these skills he picked up in his travels, Tobey was often compared to Jackson Pollock because of his style of painting. Tobey used a method he called "white writting" which is an overlay of white or light colored caligraphic symbols on an abstract field of thousands of small and interwoven brush strokes.

"A painting should be a textile, a texture. That's enough! Perhaps I was influenced by my mother. She used to sew and sew. I can still see that needle going. Maybe that's what I'd rather do than anything with the brush-like stitching over and over and over, laying it in, going over, bringing it up, bringing it up. That's what is difficult."

Sources: Google images, and

No comments:

Post a Comment