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Mark Tobey (Centerville, 1890 - Basel, 1976), was the American artist who developed the so-called "white writing", a pictorial register that was much calmer than the vigour that characterized Pollock's gestures, with which Tobey shared the same abstract humus. An accentuated sense of intimacy and the presence of a strong spiritual component - linked to the artist's personal choices, including his conversion to the Bahá'í faith - give his works an absolute originality. From a young age he discovered his passion and aptitude for drawing, in which he tried his hand at copying magazine covers and portrait drawings for catalogue illustrations. From 1906 to 1908 he attended courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1911 he left Chicago to move to Greenwich Village in New York, determined to be a fashion designer. His first solo show was in 1917, but already the following year, with his conversion to the Baha'i faith, his painting went in search of a spiritual dimension. From 1922 he was in Seattle to teach at the Cornish School of Allied Arts and here he began to study Chinese calligraphy. In these years his talent was gradually recognized and he became a sought-after painter: in fact, he began to portray many important personalities of the time. Between 1920 and 1940 he made several trips to the Orient: first to China, then to Japan where he learned calligraphic art, which he involved in his work through the creation of White Writing, that is the pictorial writing of calligraphic symbols - white or colored with light - on an abstract background, in turn composed of tiny brushstrokes that intertwine with each other. And in the Middle East where you can visit the Bahá'í sanctuaries. In 1935 he released "white writing" in his paintings, a predominant sign that would make him reach important exhibition destinations such as the Willard Gallery in New York (1944), the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (1951), the Galerie Jeanne Bucher in Paris (1955), the Venice Biennale (1958) and the Muse'e des Arts De'coratifs in Paris (1961), emphasizing above all the transcendental aspects of his art. He returned to England, then back to the United States where some important exhibitions took place. In 1958 Mark Tobey received the first prize at the Venice Biennale, which took him to Europe for good. In 1961 the Louvre dedicated a solo exhibition of 300 works to him: Tobey was the first non-French artist to be hosted in such a prestigious venue. In 1974 in Washington at the "National Collection of Fine Arts", part of the "Smithsonian Institution", an exhibition entitled "Hommage à Mark Tobey" was organized with about 70 works. Recently, his work was the subject of a major retrospective held in Venice at the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation.Read more Close