MARK TOBEY: Threading Light

Skira-Rizzoli, New York, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts


208 pages, 9 x 12 inches, 227 images

Graphic design

This book traces the evolution of Mark Tobey’s groundbreaking style and his significant yet under-recognized contributions to abstraction and mid-century American modernism.

One of the foremost American artists to emerge from the 1940s, a decade that saw the rise of Abstract Expressionism, Tobey (1890–1976) is now recognized as a vanguard figure whose work anticipated the formal innovations of New York School artists such as Jackson Pollock. Tobey’s small tempera paintings composed of intricate, pale webs of delicate lines, generated much interest for their daring “all-over” compositions.

Tobey’s unique form of abstract painting was the synthesis of his living both in Seattle and New York, his extensive trips to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kyoto, and Europe, and his conversion to the Baha’i faith. His subtle calligraphic renderings are comprised of a lyrical integration of both Eastern and Western visual histories and philosophies, and pan-cultural references to abstract traditions that range from Chinese scroll painting to European cubism.

Surveying the artist’s career with works ranging from the 1920s to 1970, this fully illustrated volume reveals the extraordinarily nuanced yet radical beauty of Tobey’s painting, affirming his significant role in the development of abstraction.