|Emil Bisttram, The Flaming One, 1964. Collection of William Dailey and Nicole Panter Dailey|
The Transcendental Painting Group planted the flag of modernism in the high-desert Southwest. Founded in 1938 by Raymond Jonson and Emil Bisttram, artist-teachers in Albuquerque and the Taos art colony, the group looked east to the European avant garde and west to Agnes Pelton, whose cosmic abstractions were a revelation to New Mexico's small modern circle. Jonson wrote Pelton at her Cathedral City, Calif., home-studio and convinced her to join the group in absentia. The TPG lasted only about seven years before World War II disbanded it. In the decades since, all its artists were largely forgotten, save for Lawren Harris, who retained a reputation in Canada. While Pelton has had several monographic shows recently, Bisttram and Jonson remain known mainly to specialists. A new show at LACMA attempts to change that. Organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, "Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, 1938-1945" covers all the TPG's major figures.
|Installation view with paintings by Agnes Pelton|
|Agnes Pelton, Resurgence, 1938. Collection of Lynda and Stuart Resnick|
|Lawren Harris, Abstract Painting, No. 95, 1939. Collection of Georgia and Michael de Havenon|
|Robert Gribbroek, Beyond Civilization to Texas, 1950. Collection of William Dailey and Nicole Panter Dailey|
|Florence Miller Pierce, Rising Red, 1942. McNay Art Museum, San Antonio|
Speaking of animation: The great painter Florence Miller's husband, fellow TPG artist Horace Towner Pierce, conceived an abstract motion picture that he called The Spiral Symphony in Four Movements: Birth, the Crystal, the Flower, Death. It got no further than a storyboard of 30 airbrushed abstractions and the intention that a score would be supplied by fellow TPG composer (and novelist and astrologer) Dane Rudhyar.
Pierce wrote of his would-be film: "Most metaphysicians, biologists, and others whose studies lead them deep into the structure of the Cosmos agree that the spiral form is the basis of life as we know it."
Two years later, Disney released Fantasia. In 1953 Watson and Crick announced the "double helix" as the basis of life.
The exhibition includes a 2020 mock up of Pierce's film, based on his sketches. "Another World" runs through June 19, 2023.
|Still from 2020 animated interpretation of Horace Towner Pierce's The Spiral Symphony in Four Movements, conceived 1938|