Stanton MacDonald-Wright 2013 Exhibition

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to announce the second major exhibition of works by Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973). One of America’s leading modernist painters and an early and prolific champion of abstract art, Macdonald-Wright moved to Paris as a teenager and founded the avant-garde painting movement Synchromism in 1912 with Morgan Russell. Often considered the first American abstract art style, the movement was described by Macdonald-Wright as follows: “Synchromism simply means ‘with color’ as symphony means ‘with sound’, and our idea was to produce an art whose genesis lay not in objectivity, but in form produced in color.”

Macdonald-Wright and Russell wrote Treatise on Color in 1924 to further explain Synchromism. The book postulated that color and sound are exact and literal equivalents of each other, wherein color is responsive to and reflective of mood and thought; musical tones have corresponding hues, wherein warm colors translate to outward, convex surfaces and cool colors indicate areas of compositional repose, much like the way a break functions in a piece of music.

With a broad scope of works from various periods of the artist’s career, Homage to Color functions much like a retrospective. In addition to the vibrant, richly colored oil paintings for which Macdonald-Wright is well-known, the exhibition also features a number of exquisite watercolors. Lyrical and light, the works employ abundant color and arching brushstrokes.

In 1919, Macdonald-Wright moved to Southern California, where he worked as an educator and project director for many years. Christopher Knight, writer and art critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote, “It simply isn’t possible to understand 20th century art in L.A. without understanding Macdonald-Wright’s work and career.”

During the remaining years of his life and up until his passing in 1973 at the age of 83, Macdonald-Wright continued to be productive and inventive, leaving as his legacy a large and diverse body of work. In 1967, he was honored with a career retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Recently, the artist’s work was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925. His paintings are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; among others. Peyton Wright Gallery is the exclusive representative of the estate of Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

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About the Artist
(1890 - 1973)
Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) was one of America’s leading modernist painters and an early pioneer of abstract art. Born in Virginia and raised in southern California, he enrolled at the Art Students League in Los Angeles as a precocious thirteen-year-old. In 1907, while still a teenager, he married and then settled in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne and several art academies, including the Académie Colorossi and the École des Beaux Arts, and then privately with Percyval Hart-Tudor, who taught color theory in relation to music. Inspired chiefly by the works of Cézanne, Matisse, and the Cubists, Macdonald-Wright exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1910 and at the Salon des Indépendents in 1912.

Together with fellow American expatriate Morgan Russell, Macdonald-Wright co-founded the avant-garde painting movement Synchromism, whose first exhibition was held in Munich in the summer of 1913 and the second in Paris during the fall of the same year. These were soon followed by shows in London, Milan, and Warsaw. And in early 1914 Synchromist paintings were exhibited for the first time in New York. Similar to its rival Parisian movement Orphism, Synchromism combined color with Cubism, producing luminous and rhythmic compositions of swirling and serpentine forms infused with a rich chromatic palette. As Macdonald-Wright later described it, “Synchromism simply means ‘with color’ as symphony means ‘with sound’, and our idea was to produce an art whose genesis lay, not in objectivity, but in form produced in color”.

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