Stanton MacDonald-Wright 2011 Exhibition

Stanton Macdonald‐Wright was one of America’s leading modernist painters and an early pioneer of abstract art. Born in Virginia and raised in southern California, he settled in Paris in 1907, studying at the Sorbonne and exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne and at the Salon des Indépendents. Together with fellow American expatriate Morgan Russell, he co‐founded the avant‐garde painting movement Synchromism, which produced 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”.

After repatriating himself to the United States in 1915, Macdonald‐Wright resided in New York, where he participated in the Forum Exhibition in 1916 and had his first one‐man show at Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery in 1917. Having become dissatisfied with what he saw as the “sterile artistic formulism” of modern art and the “academicism” of his own work, Macdonald‐Wright permanently settled in Santa Monica in 1919 and withdrew from the commercial scene, working as a director at the Art Students League and for the WPA Art Project. During this same period, he wrote a student textbook on color theory and continued his artistic pursuits, which turned heavily toward Eastern representational models, especially Chinese painting. 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. These Neo‐Synchromist works surpassed the artist’s earlier paintings by way of a heightened luminosity and augmented spatiality thus creating a deeper spirituality.

The institutional, corporate, and private collector market has come to recognize Stanton Macdonald‐Wright as a pioneer in 20th‐century American art, with recent auction results in the millions of dollars for his early Synchromist compositions. This exhibition will prominently feature many works by the artist that have not been publicly viewed since his retrospective exhibitions in 1967 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. and in 1970 at the UCLA Art Galleries in Los Angeles.

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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