From the Collections

Peyton Wright Gallery is pleased to announce “From the Collections,” an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper drawn from the gallery’s extensive collections and estates. More than 50 artists will be showcased, including artists from the Washington Color School such as Tom Downing and Paul Reed, as well as Bay Area Abstract Expressionists including John Grillo and Edward Dugmore. The exhibition commences on Friday, October 14, 2016 and continues through November 16, 2016 in our main floor galleries. There is no opening reception.

The Washington Color School was a movement of the late 1950s through the late 1960s. It was a form of abstract art that developed from color field painting. The name derives from the Washing Gallery of Modern Art, where this group of artists first exhibited. This exhibition features two of the school’s founding members, Tom Downing and Paul Reed. Both are known for their strong palettes and precise, hard-edged compositions. James Hilleary and Leon Berkowitz are two artists associated with the movement who are also featured in the exhibition.

Bay Area Abstract Expressionism was a movement that centered on Clyfford Still, who taught at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). John Grillo and Edward Dugmore were two of his most prominent students. Dugmore produced large, imposing paintings that Los Angeles Times critic David Pagel called “translucent configurations … [that] seem to be lit from behind.” Grillo became known as one of the “purest” action painters and helped to define Bay Area Abstract Expressionism. Both Dugmore and Grillo went on to show at the renowned Stable Gallery in New York.

The exhibition features other significant works by prominent artists across the spectrum of post-war American art. These include Hans Hofmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Jochen Seidel, James Brooks, Art Brenner, Mary Abbott, Grace Hartigan, Herbert Bayer, and Ray Parker. The breadth and depth of Peyton Wright Gallery’s collection will be on full display in this exhibition.

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About the Artists
(1911 - 1987)
Leon Berkowitz was born in Philadelphia in 1911. He was a founding member of the Washington Color School, an artistic movement which became associated with Washington, D.C. painters. His paintings evolved from luminous geometric abstractions to fields of brilliant modulated color.

Berkowitz earned a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and continued his studies in New York, Paris, and Florence. He founded the Washington Workshop Center of the Arts in 1945 and taught there from 1945 - 1965. The workshop was established to make Washington a serious place for the growth of artistic culture through the exchange of artistic ideas.

Other teachers at the Workshop who became leaders of the Washington Color School were Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis.

Berkowitz and his wife traveled extensively from 1956 to 1964. Berkowitz used that time to further his artistic and spiritual explorations. He painted and exhibited in England, Spain, Greece, Wales, and Jerusalem. Returning permanently to Washington in 1964, he joined the faculty of the Corcoran School of Art. He was promoted to head of the Painting Department in 1969.

Berkowitz had solo exhibitions at the Corcoran Museum of Art in 1969 and in 1973, as well as numerous solo shows at private galleries in Washington,D.C. and New York City. His works are in the permanent collections of the Corcoran, the Phillips Collection, and the MOMA in New York.

Much of Berkowitz's work is a reaction to the work of the Abstract Expressionist School in New York. Berkowitz was never comfortable with the abstract expressionist painters' dependence on internal psychological states. Berkowitz felt he needed to take inspiration from some external authority, rather than an exclusively internal one. In Berkowitz's own words, "I wanted to work in direct response to nature".

Berkowitz's later paintings marry form and structure with color and light. As light penetrates through the layers of thinly applied paint crystalline structures emerge. Berkowitz challenges the viewer to look INTO the color rather than AT the color. Berkowitz restores to color a "depth of vision" in his best work, and in those depths the viewer discovers the natural forms in the universe - sea, sky, and earth.


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(1910 - 2008)
Margo Hoff was born into a large family in Tulsa in 1912. As a child she spent many hours playing out­side, finding patterns in nature, a practice she pursued throughout her life, rendering them as bright, textural paintings. Hoff graduated from Tulsa University in 1931. Three years later she moved to Chicago, enrolling in the National Academy of Art and later at SAIC. In 1939 she spent a few months in Europe traveling and looking at art, and during her lifetime she traveled and worked in over twenty-five countries, including Brazil, Ethiopia, and Lebanon.

Hoff showed in exhibitions at Art Institute Chicago (1945, 1946, 1950, and 1953), winning several prizes. In addition to her long-standing association with Fairweather-Hardin Gallery, which began in 1955 with her first one-person exhibition in Chicago, Hoff's work was frequently shown in New York, including Hadler-Rodriguez Galleries, Saidenberg Gallery, Babcock Gallery, Betty Parsons Gallery, and Banter Gallery; and in Paris at Wildenstein Gallery. Her work can be found in the collections of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Art Institute of Chicago.


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(1886 - 1969)
Paul Burlin was born in New York in 1886. He received his early education in England before returning to New York at the age of twelve. He worked for a short time as an illustrator under Theodore Dreiser at Delineator magazine, where he was exposed to Progressivist philosophy and politics. He soon grew tired of commercial work and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. There, he received a formal education and refined his technical skills; though he later dropped out to pursue his artistic studies more informally with a group of fellow students. He was also a frequent visitor at Alfred Steiglitz’s ‘291’ gallery.

Burlin achieved a great deal of early artistic success. He visited the Southwest for the first time in 1910. Paintings from this visit were received warmly in New York and exhibited in a 1911 exhibition. As a result of his early success, he was the youngest artist (at twenty-six years of age) to participate in the 1913 Armory Show – the revolutionary exhibition of avant-garde European work that can be credited with introducing modern art to the United States and stimulating the development of modernism in America. There, Burlin’s work was exhibited alongside works by such artists as Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, and Duchamp.


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(1928 - 1985)
Thomas Downing was born in Suffolk, Virginia. He studied at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948. He then studied at the Pratt Institute, a well-known art school in Brooklyn, New York, until 1950. That year he received a grant from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, enabling him to travel to Europe, where he studied briefly at the Académie Julian in Paris.

In the late 1950s, Downing shared a studio with Howard Mehring, another artist of the Washington Color School and Color Field style. In 1964 Clement Greenberg included Noland, Mehring, Downing and others in his traveling museum exhibition called Post-painterly Abstraction.
(1936)
Donald Roy Thompson was born in 1936, in Fowler, California. He received his B.A. degree from Sacramento State University in 1960. He received his M.A also from Sacramento State University in 1962. His most notable art instructor was Wayne Thiebaud. Among his classmates were Fritz Scholder and Merrill Mahaffey, both successful artists in Santa Fe. From 1964-2000 Donald was an art instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. Before he settled down to teach, Donald traveled and lived in Mexico City, where he was able to observe closely the murals of Diego Rivera. In 2013 Thompson settled in Santa Fe. There he began his current series of work, rekindling an aesthetic from four decades previous.

Like so many color field painters of his generation, Thompson was influenced by Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, as well as by Matisse and Mondrian. During an impoverished time in his early art career he was unable to afford good quality paint so instead he used layers of hand dyed cheesecloth for a large installation at the Cabrillo College Gallery. It helped form the basis of the ideas of transparency that he later produced in his acrylic color field paintings of 1971-75. By 1972 Donald began again to use opaque colors on various sizes of canvas, focusing on the illusion of transparency. By 1974 he began to feel the need for greater physicality. He began to employ the use of stretched canvases of a single color bolted together from large to huge (7.5’ X 10’) now in the Oakland Museum.

Thompson has exhibited solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. These include solo shows at Larry Evans/Willis Gallery, Foster Goldstrom, and Galeria Carl Van der Voort in San Francisco, and Ibiza, Spain. He had solo shows at Frederick Spratt Gallery in San Jose, California, as well as Shasta College Gallery, in Redding California and Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. His group shows include Leila Taghinia-Milani, New York City, Basel Art Fair, Switzerland, Second British International Print Biennale, Yorkshire, England, and "40 Now California Painters," an invitational show that toured the Southeast. Thompson’s Paintings are found in major collections including The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA.; Seattle First National Bank (Seafirst), Seattle, WA; Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA, Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz, CA.

Donald Thompson’s exhibitions have been reviewed well by Thomas Albright of the San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 1964, Sept. 28, 1967; Henry Hopkins, The Tampa Tribune, April, 16, 1968; Mark Levy, Artweek, December 18, 1982; Claude LeSuer, ArtSpeak, June 23, 1983, New York, N.Y.

(1889 - 1981)
Canadian artist Rolph Scarlett had a remarkable career, as a painter, designer and creator of unique jewelry. He was born in Guelph, Ontario in 1889. When he moved to the United States in 1918, he had gained experience in the techniques of painting, execution of jewelry settings and designing for the stage. Each of these interests helped shape his career.

Scarlett's dedication to Modernism was expressed in his art and design work. Although Scarlett also created action paintings and surrealist works, he especially loved and was devoted to geometric abstract non-objective painting. Before the end of his nearly 75-year career, Scarlett had returned to geometric abstraction with a greatly brightened palette and a denser composition than used in his earlier work. His commitment to abstraction never wavered and he continued to explore it, until his death at age 94.
Mokha Laget was born in Algeria and spent her early life in North Africa, France, and the United States.

"I manipulate spatial conventions within the confines of geometric abstraction and engage the viewer in an interactive exploration of perceptual ambiguity within the shaped canvas as object and its embedded planes.

I use a highly refined chromatic sensibility (developed in my formative years in the Mediterranean desert and later as studio assistant to Washington Color School Painter Gene Davis), to alternatively support or undermine the illusionistic spatial constructs of the painting. To that effect, I have developed a clay-based paint with a deeply flat matte and tactile surface which I layer for maximum light absorption.

I create shaped canvases to eliminate the traditional rectilinear boundary, and allow the internal dynamics of the piece to extend beyond the painting to external vanishing points.

My work expands on the WCS and Colorfield painters who avoided techniques suggesting depth, preferring planar surfaces and repetitive elements, whereas I deliberately explore perceptual mechanisms to create scale, spatial disruption and color ambiguity."

(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 cofounded
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”.
At the outbreak of World War I, Macdonald-Wright moved to London with his
older sibling, Willard Huntington Wright, who was an editor and author. Sharing quarters
there for the next two years, the brothers collaborated on three art books, including
Modern Painting, Its Tendency and Meaning (1915), that were subsequently published in
New York. After repatriating himself to the United States in 1915, Macdonald-Wright
took up residence in New York, where he participated in the Forum Exhibition of Modern
American Painters in 1916 and was given his first one-man show at Alfred Stieglitz’s
“291” gallery the following year. His Synchromist paintings had a direct and marked
influence on the work of Thomas Hart Benton, Andrew Dasburg, Jan Matulka, Stuart
Davis, Arnold Friedman, and Alfred Maurer.
Although successful in New York, Macdonald-Wright became increasingly
dissatisfied with what he saw as the “sterile artistic formulism” of modern art and the
237 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
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In the historic Spiegelberg House § Palace Avenue at Paseo de Peralta
“academicism” of his own Synchromism. Consequently, he permanently resettled in Santa
Monica in 1919 and withdrew from the commercial art scene for the following three
decades. Instead, he became an active and energetic force in the southern Californian art
world primarily as a teacher and administrator, all the while still continuing his artistic
pursuits, which turned heavily toward Eastern representational models, especially Chinese
painting. From 1922 to 1930 he served as Director of the Art Students League in Los
Angeles, writing a student textbook entitled Treatise on Color (1924). During the late
twenties and early thirties, he co-exhibited at several museums in California with Morgan
Russell and had a one-man show at Stieglitz’s “An American Place” in New York in
1932. He then worked for the WPA Art Project as Director of Southern California and as
Technical Advisor for seven western states from 1935 to 1942, during which time he
personally completed several major civil art projects, including the murals at the Santa
Monica City Hall. During World War II and up through 1952, Macdonald-Wright taught
at UCLA, USC, Scripps College, and the University of Hawaii on the subjects of art
history, Oriental aesthetics, and iconography. In 1952-53, he visited Japan as a Fulbright
exchange professor and briefly lectured at Kyoiku Daigaku (Tokyo University of
Education). Finally, in 1954, he retired from academia.
After a hiatus of more than thirty years, Macdonald-Wright returned to
nonobjective painting in the mid 1950s with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, producing
some of his finest canvases. This new body of Neo-Synchromist work surpassed the
artist’s earlier paintings by way of a heightened luminosity and augmented spatiality,
creating as a result, in the opinion of the modern art champion, Alfred Barr, a deeper
spirituality. As the artist himself described it,
“At first I saw my new painting with a certain astonishment, for I had made the
“great circle”, coming back after 35 years to an art that was, superficially, not
unlike the canvases of my youth. However, at bottom there was a great difference:
I had achieved an interior realism, what is called yugen by the Japanese. This is a
sense of reality which cannot be seen but which is evident by feeling, and I am
certain that this quality of hidden reality was what I felt to be lacking in my
younger days.”
From 1958 on, Macdonald-Wright spent five months each year at Kenninji, a Zen
monastery in the center of Kyoto, Japan. One of the most fruitful outcomes of his
exposure to Japanese poetry and art was the creation of the Haiga portfolio (1965-66), a
suite of twenty Haiku illustrations in brilliant color that is a masterful synthesis of
modernist art in the Synchromist style and the traditional technique of Japanese
woodblock printing.
In 1967 the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts held a
237 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
800 879-8898
505 989-9888
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fineart@peytonwright.com
In the historic Spiegelberg House § Palace Avenue at Paseo de Peralta
major retrospective exhibition on Macdonald-Wright, honoring his more than six decades
of artistic achievement. 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 modernist painting, which has since
taken its rightful place as being of premier importance in American twentieth-century art.
~ Andrew Diversey
References:
Daviee, Jerry M. 1982. Stanton Macdonald-Wright: Watercolors and Drawings. San
Francisco: The Art Museum Association.
Figoten, Sheldon. 1985. Stanton Macdonald-Wright: Paintings 1953-1964. Redding, CA:
Redding Museum and Art Center.
Scott, David W. and Stanton Macdonald-Wright. 1967. The Art of Stanton Macdonald-
Wright. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Press.
South, Will. 2001. Color, Music, and Myth. Stanton Macdonald-Wright and
Synchromism. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Museum of Art.
Wight, Frederick. 1970. Stanton Macdonald-Wright: A Retrospective Exhibition 1911-
1970. Los Angeles: The UCLA Art Galleries.

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(1935 - 2005)
Alvin Loving Jr. was an innovative African American artist whose diverse body of work included striking geometric paintings. Just a year after leaving his native Detroit for New York in 1969, Loving was given a solo show at the Whitney Museum. Of the exhibition, Loving later reflected: “My geometric abstractions of this time represented a post-graduate end to my education in western culture and art history. The Whitney show would force me to scramble to find my own non-eclectic position in art.” Throughout his career, Loving developed a recognizably bold style, organizing vivid color into arresting visual arrangements with precision and subtlety.