Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is the first exhibition on the little-known American painter in more than 24 years. Born to American parents in Stuttgart, Germany, Agnes Pelton (1881-1961) and her family briefly lived in Basel, Switzerland before returning to the United States in 1888.
A graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, she began experimenting with abstraction in the early 1900s in New York, eventually exhibiting in the Armory Show of 1913 at the invitation of Walt Kuhn.
Intentionally moving away from the “mainstream” arts community, Pelton eventually settled in Cathedral City, California. She painted conventional desert landscapes to make a living, but it was her abstract studies of earth and light, biomorphic compositions of delicate veils, shimmering stars, and atmospheric horizon lines, that distinguished her work. A believer in numerology, astrology, and faith healing, Pelton’s abstract compositions propelled her into an esoteric world epitomized by the Transcendental Painting Group (1938-1942), a short-lived group that promoted abstract, non-objective art.
Agnes Pelton, Day, 1935. Oil on canvas. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of The Melody S. Robidoux Foundation.
Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona | March 9–September 8, 2019
New Mexico Museum of Art, New Mexico | October 3, 2019–January 5, 2020
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York | March 13–June 28, 2020
Palm Springs Art Museum, California| August 1–November 29, 2020
Circles Exhibition Preview
March 7, 2019 | 6–8 pm
Members' Preview Day
March 8, 2019 | 10 am–5 pm
Channeled Visions: Women, Esotericism and Modern Art Lecture
April 27, 2019 | 1–3 pm
May 18, 2019 | 1–3 pm
September 7, 2019 | 1–3 pm
$21 — Adults
$18 — Senior Citizens (Ages 65+)
$15 — Students (with ID)
$11 — Youth (Ages 6-17)
All exhibitions and installations are included with General Admission.
Voluntary-Donation AdmissionThis special–engagement exhibition is offered to the public for $5 (no General Admission required) during voluntary-donation hours from 3–9 pm each Wednesday, from 6–10 pm on the First Friday of each month, and on the second Sunday of each month from noon–5 pm. General Admission is reduced to a voluntary donation during the times listed above.
Agnes Pelton, Messengers, 1932. Oil on canvas. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of The Melody S. Robidoux Foundation.
Agnes Pelton, The Fountains, 1926. Oil on canvas. Collection of Georgia and Michael de Havenon.
Agnes Pelton, Fires in Space, 1938. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.
Homepage: Agnes Pelton, Orbits, 1934. Collection of Oakland Museum of California, Gift of Concours d'Antiques, the Art Guild of the Oakland Museum of California.