Mark Tobey

Northwest Drift

1958

Medium
Tempera and gouache on paper on board
Dimensions
Support: 1135 x 905 mm
frame: 1157 x 930 x 55 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the American Friends of the Tate Gallery 1961
Reference
T00463

Display caption

After studying calligraphy in China and Japan, Tobey developed a technique of painting with rapid brushstokes, which he called ‘white writing’. Northwest Drift is one of several works that reflect his meditative response to landscape. He wrote: ‘Seattle where I painted this picture is a place of virginal winds, air currents and intermingled seasons... Gray skies, gray water make one conscious of this color and I have used a series of gray tones which seem so indigenous to the locale.’

Gallery label, November 2005

Catalogue entry

Mark Tobey 1890-1976

T00463 Northwest Drift 1958

Inscribed 'Tobey | 58' b.r.
Tempera and watercolour on card, 46 1/8 x 39 5/8 (117 x 101)
Presented by the American Friends of the Tate Gallery 1961
Prov: Purchased by the American Friends of the Tate Gallery from the artist through the Willard Gallery, New York
Exh: XXIX Biennale, Venice, June-October 1958 (US pavilion 71, repr.); Rétrospective Mark Tobey, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, October-December 1961 (176); Mark Tobey, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, January-February 1962 (111)
Repr: Ronald Alley, Recent American Art (London 1969), pl.4; Terry Measham, The Moderns 1945-1975 (Oxford 1976), pl.6

The artist wrote of this picture, in March 1962: 'Location geographically speaking no doubt plays a principal role in the development of this painting, for Seattle where I painted this picture is a place of virginal winds, air currents and intermingled seasons. To the West of the great Cascade Range of mountains, the atmosphere becomes softer, rain forests exist and fogs drift against the mountains and along the coast line. Gray skies, gray water make one conscious of this color and I have used a series of gray tones which seem so indigenous to the locale. I hope in the slow rhythms of this painting of the North West to have transferred some feeling of all I have spoken of above.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.724-5, reproduced p.724


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