Orange County Museum of Art

Newport Beach, CA



LAM/OCMA Trust Collection Acquires Paintings


The directors of the Laguna Art Museum (LAM) and the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) announced that the boards of trustees of LAM and OCMA approved the acquisition of The Guide by Agnes Pelton and Untitled by Stanton MacDonald-Wright into the LAM/OCMA Trust Collection, which is dedicated to the art of California. The LAM/OCMA Trust Collection is overseen by a committee comprised of five representatives of each of the two museum boards.

Naomi Vine, director of OCMA, and Bolton Colburn, director of LAM, made the announcement recently. Vine remarked, "Pelton and MacDonald-Wright are key figures in California's art history, and we have been seeking appropriate work by these artists for several years." Colburn added, "These two important paintings represent major additions to the collection and help flesh out the history of California art."

Stanton MacDonald-Wright (1890-1973) is recognized for his influence on local artists in Southern California where he was one of the primary advocates of Modernism. He was especially interested in still-life painting and with artist Morgan Russell developed Synchronism, a modern movement characterized by brilliant color, formal innovation, and subjective emotion. MacDonald-Wright organized the first exhibition of modern American painting in Los Angeles in 1920 with well-known New York art dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Untitled, painted in c.1924-25, is actually two works in one: on the verse of the double-sided canvas is an unsigned composition that is representative of the naturalist tendencies he incorporated into his art after returning to California in 1919. Artists frequently painted on both sides of a canvas because of limited financial means.

Agnes Pelton (1881-1961) is best known for her visionary abstractions. Pelton was interested in the organic forces of nature and imbued her paintings with a spiritual mysticism. She was inspired by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth who believed that nature "was a guide leading beyond itself" and that the imagination allowed one to see the beauty in the world. In 1932 Pelton moved from New York to Palm Springs, where she continued to paint astrological abstractions now inspired by the desert. The Guide, painted in 1929, belongs to a series of symmetrical, vertical abstractions that feature large stars floating in the night skies.

From top to bottom: Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Untitled, c.1924-25, oil on canvas, 23 x 17 inches; Agnes Pelton, The Guide, 1929, oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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