PRINT April 1979

Mark Tobey’s Paintings of New York

IT IS SURPRISING TO FIND Mark Tobey painting scenes of New York, where, after 1922, he never lived for any length of time. Nonetheless, in the midst of a period of wandering and restlessness during the ’30s, Tobey looked to America’s foremost metropolis for his subject: a society solely concerned with rational and intellectual pursuit. His images of the metropolitan milieu investigate how one might live in the midst of materialism and still enjoy the full expression of one’s feelings, intuition and creativity.1

These were precisely the questions Mark Tobey dealt with when he painted Broadway Norm and Broadway in late 1935,2 two works that reveal significant information about Tobey’s psychology and spirituality, and that mark a key turning point in his development. Painted when Tobey was 45 years old, they depart radically from his earlier output of fashion illustration, portraiture, mural

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