American painter. He studied watercolour and oil painting techniques at the Art Institute of Chicago, this being his only formal artistic training. After various jobs, Tobey became a fashion illustrator. During this period, he discovered the art of the past, being especially attracted to the paintings of the Italian Renascence and the work of artists like Frans Hals, John Singer Sargent and Joaquim Sorolla y Bastida. In 1911, he moved to New York and, in 1912, returned to Chicago. Between 1913 and 1917, he divided his time between these two cities, continuing to work as a fashion illustrator and developing a growing reputation through his charcoal portraits. These were exhibited in his first one-man show in New York at the Knoedler Gallery. Reluctant, however, to pursue a career in this area, Tobey moved into interior design whilst developing his personal interests in Chinese calligraphy and Far Eastern religions. In 1922, he moved to Seattle, taught at the Cornish School and came into contact with Cubist ideas. In 1925, unhappy with his work, he travelled to Europe, establishing himself initially in Paris. In the following year, he visited Spain, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, finally returning to the United States. In 1930, he accepted the invitation to teach and paint in England, where he settled in 1938. At the end of the 40s and the early 50s, he painted in dark, sombre colours despite retaining something of his calligraphic style. In 1955, he visited the Continent where he exhibited with vanguard artists like Georges Mathieu and Wolls. In 1957, he produced a series of paintings where he used Japanese ink and, in the following year, he received the first prize for international painting at the Venice Biennale. His style remained constant during the 60s, although the dimensions of his paintings have increased owing to pressure applied by museums. His work is generally considered a more intimate version of Jackson Pollock's paintings due to their elegant gestural quality and small dimensions. In their origin they are, however, significantly different based not on the psyche of the individual but on a universalist religion. The paintings of Mark Tobey are close to a European tradition of abstract painting that includes the impersonal serenity of Mondrian. In spite of having gained great European critical recognition, the American reception of his work has been rather indifferent.