Tobey, Mark

Tobey, Mark,

1890–1976, American painter, b. Centerville, Wis. An avid traveler, Tobey visited China and Japan in 1934. He then developed his celebrated "white writing," in which he attempted to symbolize the human spirit by applying principles of Eastern calligraphy to the rhythms of Western civilization. An exciting sense of motion and lyric treatment of light and color are revealed in his San Francisco Street (1941; Detroit Inst. of Arts) and Fountains of Europe (1955; Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston). In 1923, Tobey settled in the NW United States; much of his work is exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum. Transit (1948; Metropolitan Mus.) is characteristic of the East Asian influence in Tobey's art.


See catalog by W. Seitz (1962).

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Tobey, Mark

(1890–1976) painter; born in Centerville, Wis. A self-taught artist, he moved to New York (1911) and became a commercial artist and portraitist. He converted to Bahá'í (1918), a Near Eastern-based religion, which influenced his "white writing," a calligraphic technique used in his abstract tempera and gouache paintings, such as Broadway (1936). He traveled widely and lived in Seattle, Washington, and Switzerland.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.