Modern Art Monday Presents: Agnes Pelton, Resurgence

agnes pelton resurgence photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

Agnes Pelton (18811961) strove to portray a spiritual realm beyond material appearances. Her artistic breakthrough came in the mid-1920s in a series of abstract paintings, depicting incorporeal subject matter such as air, light, water, and sound. In the decades that followed, as she began to immerse herself in the study of esoteric and occult philosophies, her imagery evolved.

She paired the emotive power of ethereal abstract forms with delicate, shimmering veils of color and mystical symbol, such as stars, mountains, and fire to represent the union with “Devine reality” that she experienced in dreams and meditation. She once described her process of meticulously applying thin layers of pigment to create subtle, luminous hues as “painting with a moth’s wings, and with music instead of paint.”

In Resurgence (1938), initially entitled Flight, the triangular shape thrusting from the frozen landscape and pointing to a bright star signals spiritual movement from worldly problems toward a higher plan of consciousness. The image reflects Pelton’s understanding that struggles on earth must be transcended in order to attain divine enlightenment.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC

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