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The Transcendental Painting Group: Major Paintings

November 4, 1999 – January 8, 2000


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Artists included in this exhibition: Emil Bisttram, Ed Garman, Lawren Harris, Raymond Jonson, Agnes Pelton, Florence Miller Pierce and Stuart Walker

Formed in 1938 with the aim to defend, validate and promote abstract and non-objective art, the Transcendental Painting Group was an oddity in an overwhelmingly traditional art world devoted to representational art. Members of the TPG shared interests in theories popularized by Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian as well as beliefs in Theosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Dynamic Symmetry. Although TPG members were committed to philosophical concepts and ideals, each artist developed his or her own artistic language and sought "to carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light and design."

The TPG as a formal organization was short-lived (1938-1942) but its accomplishments were vast and everlasting. In fulfilling its mission to "widen the horizon of art", the group organized lectures, published articles and mounted exhibitions. TPG artists gained notoriety with their participation in

several landmark exhibitions including the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, the 1939 New York World’s Fair and a 1940 group exhibition at the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (now the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum) in New York City. As the group gained momentum, the United States entered World War II in 1941, causing TPG artists to disperse and forcing the premature unraveling of the group. Most members continued to create abstract art and their accomplishments have been celebrated with publications and museum exhibitions.

This group exhibition of early American abstraction includes rare paintings by seven of the ten members of the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG): Emil Bisttram, Ed Garman, Lawren Harris, Raymond Jonson, Agnes Pelton, Florence Miller Pierce and Stuart Walker.