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Lot 3413 - A205 PostWar & Contemporary - Thursday, 22. June 2023, 02.00 PM


(Centerville 1890–1976 Basel)
Aquarium. 1964.
Tempera on paper firmly laid down on cardboard.
Signed lower left: Tobey.
100 × 69.5 cm.

- Artist's studio.
- Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
- Auction Sotheby's New York, 6 November 1985, Lot 119.
- Private collection Switzerland.

- Basel 1966, Tobey. Galerie Beyeler, January - 10 March, cat. no. 12 (without ill.).
- Lausanne 1971/72, Mark Tobey, cat. no. 11.

"With Aquarium, I was trying to capture the feeling of being underwater, surrounded by the shimmering colors and shapes of the sea. The White Writing adds a kind of luminosity, like sunlight filtering through the water." Mark Tobey

The visual world of the painter, poet and composer Mark Tobey is complex and characterised by an almost infinite potential for creativity, love of experimentation and the power to innovate. With his distinctive approach to abstraction and the fusion of elements of Western modernism with components of Far Eastern calligraphy, Tobey created something unique and hugely radiant. Tobey's multi-faceted oeuvre ranges from figurative works to the iconic White Writings.

The present work from 1964 presents a complex harmonious composition of bright colours, abstract forms, flowing filigree lines and reticulated all-over structures, as well as calligraphic swirls and elements. The various shades of grey and blue, which Tobey deliberately allows to merge into one another, dominate the colour palette and create a subtle gradation of colour. The green, yellow, pink and orange accents enliven the picture and create interesting contrasts. The viewer searches in vain for a centre in this outstanding work, which is reminiscent of a peaceful underwater world. It is the work in its entirety that pulsates and radiates an almost meditative poetic mood. The painting invites the viewer to immerse themselves in an imaginative world full of life and to experience for themselves the gentle movements, nuances and varied textures.

Mark Tobey was a major pioneer of Abstract Expressionism and the artwork offered here, "Aquarium", is an outstanding example of how abstract forms, colours and the White Writing painting technique developed by Tobey could be used to best effect to create a kind of luminosity, movement, depth and powerful emotional impact, perfectly reflecting the beauty and diversity of nature.

CHF 130 000 / 180 000 | (€ 134 020 / 185 570)

Sold for CHF 274 800 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.