Mark Tobey - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Mr. William Billow
    Otto Seligman Gallery, Seattle
    Estate of Eugene and Florence Schwartz, Westchester
    Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Both real and imagined cities figure prominently as a recurring theme in Mark Tobey’s oeuvre. As he has said, “No doubt I did them because I am an American painter. I cannot be indifferent to the swarming crowds, multitudes, neon signs, movie theaters, to the noises that I hate of modern cities.” (Mark Tobey, quoted in William Chapin Seitz, Mark Tobey, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1962, pp. 15-16) The chaos of New York City held a particular fascination for Tobey as the epitome of the tension between the spiritual and the material, which characterized much of his work and way of thinking. The city figured in over twenty of Tobey’s works, beginning with Broadway (1936), painted while he was a resident artist at Dartington Hall in England, and which was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1942.

    New York IV, painted between February and June of 1954, when Tobey had returned to the city, recalls some of the striking stylistic elements of Broadway, in particular the dense composition and sense of frenetic movement. New York IV, however, breaks with the distinct one-point perspective of Broadway, opening up into an all-over composition that scholar and curator William C. Seitz referred to as “multiple space.” Having moved beyond the more representational “white writing” style of the lines in Broadway, in New York IV Tobey reduces the city to an abstract patchwork of colorful brushstrokes and distinct black lines. “The empty space between buildings has been filled with ‘mass’ and movement,” Seitz comments when discussing a work completed shortly after Broadway titled Welcome Hero, “walls are fragmented and…the compartments of architecture, billboards, and other geometric details have broken away from the focus of the street.” (William Chapin Seitz, Mark Tobey, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1962, p. 27) The similarly expressive rendering of the city in New York VI further enhances its frenzied movement, dynamic rhythm, and unique vibrancy.


New York IV

signed and dated "Tobey 54" lower left; further signed and dated "Tobey 54" lower right
tempera and mixed media on paper laid on cardboard
15 7/8 x 12 1/4 in. (40.3 x 31.1 cm.)
Executed in 1954.

Achim Moeller, Managing Principal of the Mark Tobey Project LLC, has confirmed the authenticity. The work is registered in the Mark Tobey archive with the number MT [123-6-28-10].

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $32,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018