Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group
June 26, 2021
Albuquerque Museum presents Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California, and curated by Michael Duncan. The exhibition will be on view from June 26 to September 26, 2021.
Towards the end of the Great Depression, a loose configuration of artists organized to discuss and perpetuate an alternative to the social realism and homespun Americana that had been promoted by Regionalism and the Ash Can school. Initiated in Taos in 1938, the Transcendental Painting Group formed to explore a heightened vision of the American landscape, employing free-wheeling symbols and imagery drawn from the collective unconscious to depict a transfigured, spiritually alive America. Drawing as well on the non-objective experimentation of Wassily Kandinsky, along with other American modernists, these artists sought to evoke sensuous, synesthetic experiences of nature and the cosmos, often using references to music and esoteric philosophies.
Under the guidance of painters Raymond Jonson and Emil Bisttram, other artists affiliated with Transcendental Painting Group were Agnes Pelton, Lawren Harris, Florence Miller Pierce, Horace Pierce, Robert Gribbroek, William Lumpkins, Dane Rudhyar, Stuart Walker, and Ed Garman. All worked in New Mexico except Pelton, who lived in Southern California. While the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s drew attention away from the efforts of the group, their paintings provide a fascinating heritage for works by a range of contemporary artists including Frederick Wight, Sharon Ellis, Fred Tomaselli, Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Laib, Anish Kapoor, and Sandeep Mukarjee.
Image: Emil Bisttram (1895–1976), Creative Forces, 1936, oil on canvas, 36 x 27 in. Private collection. Courtesy Aaron Payne Fine Art, Santa Fe.