The Transcendental Painting Group was founded in New Mexico in 1938, a time in American art that is mostly known for social realism in painting. This little-known group focused on abstract work with the goal of spiritual enlightenment. The work is luminous, airy, and feels reminiscent of Hilma af Klint. Recommended By Leah B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Abstract painting meets theosophical spirituality in 1930s New Mexico: the first book on a radical, astonishingly prescient episode in American modernism
Founded in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, in 1938, at a time when social realism reigned in American art, the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG) sought to promote abstract art that pursued enlightenment and spiritual illumination. The nine original members of the Transcendental Painting Group were Emil Bisttram, Robert Gribbroek, Lawren Harris, Raymond Jonson, William Lumpkins, Florence Miller Pierce, Agnes Pelton, Horace Towner Pierce and Stuart Walker. They were later joined by Ed Garman. Despite the quality of their works, these Southwest artists have been neglected in most surveys of American art, their paintings rarely exhibited outside of New Mexico. Faced with the double disadvantage of being an openly spiritual movement from the wrong side of the Mississippi, the TPG has remained a secret mostly known only to cognoscenti.
Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group aims to address this slight, claiming the group's artists as crucial contributors to an alternative through-line in 20th-century abstraction, one with renewed relevance today. This volume provides a broad perspective on the group's work, positioning it within the history of modern painting and 20th-century American art. Essays examine the TPG in light of their international artistic peers; their involvement with esoteric thought and Theosophy; the group's sources in the culture and landscape of the American Southwest; and the experience of its two female members.
About the Author
Michael Duncan is an independent curator based in Los Angeles.
Scott Shields is the associate director and chief curator of the Crocker Art Museum.
Ilene Fort is a senior curator at LACMA.
MaLin Wilson-Powell is an independent curator based in Santa Fe.
Catherine Whitney is a former chief curator at the Philbrook Museum of Art and is based in Tulsa.