Mark Tobey took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago, then moved to New York in 1911 and earned his living as a portrait artist and a draftsman in the fashion industry. The first exhibition of his work took place in 1917 at the Knoedler Gallery. Shortly afterward, he converted to the universal religion of Baha’i and explored the representation of the spiritual in art. In 1922, he moved to Seattle and taught art at the Cornish School. Hs meeting with the Chinese painter Teng Kuei, who introduced him to oriental calligraphy, influenced his work. In 1925, he moved to Paris and travelled through Europe and the Middle East. He thereby discovered Persian and Arabic writing. Upon returning to Seattle, he co-founded the Free and Creative Art School, and his works were presented by Alfred Barr at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1934, he left for China, where he spent time at the home of Teng Kuei before going to study painting and calligraphy in Japan. After her trip to the United States in 1945, Jeanne Bucher returned with several works of the American artist which she wished to show in Paris, but illness took her life in 1946. Ten years later, Jean-François Jaeger organized his first exhibition in Europe, with the cooperation of the Willard Gallery in New York. In 1951, the Whitney Museum in New York dedicated a solo exhibition to his work and at the invitation of Joseph Albers, Tobey spent 3 months as invited speaker ? at Yale University. In 1958, Tobey obtained the Grand Prize of painting of the Venice Biennale and the Museum of Decorative Arts of Paris dedicated, in 1961, its first retrospective accorded to an American artist. Until his death in 1976, he would travel unceasingly while his wok was presented by numerous prestigious institutions.
His artistic career is tightly linked to his spiritual evolution. The encounter with the Bahaï faith, his travels to the Far East ad in Europe an his contacts with the Zen religion were decisive in his works and the creation of his White Writing. These vibratory spaces with multiple degrees of movement were obtained by the manipulation of a light brush over backgrounds of dense tonalities. Tobey sought in pure abstraction an original calligraphic style capable of translating the synthesis of universal communication to which he aspired. A contemporary of the great prolific New York artists adept at imposing forms, Tobey naturally turned towards Europe where his utterly interiorized sensibility would find its greatest resonance. The gallery commemorated the 100th and 120th anniversaries of his birth and constantly presentd his work in its exhibitions.