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Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group opens at Philbrook Museum of Art on October 17, 2021

TULSA, OK., October 4, 2021 — In a period of great change and uncertainty, a small group of artists in New Mexico joined together in a mutual need to explore spirituality through abstraction. In 1938, the artists formed the Transcendental Painting Group, and over only a few short years created abstract works of art that are sensuous, emotive, and radiant explorations of form, landscape, and the human spirit.

Agnes Pelton (American, b. Germany, 1881–1961). Winter, 1933. Oil on canvas, 30 x 28”. Crocker Art Museum Purchase; Paul LeBaron Thiebaud, George and Bea Gibson Fund, Denise and Donald C. Timmons, Melza and Ted Barr, Sandra Jones, Linda M. Lawrence, Nancy Lawrence and Gordon Klein, Nancy S. and Dennis N. Marks, William L. Snider and Brian Cameron, Stephenson Foundation, Alan Templeton, A.J. and Susana Mollinet Watson, and other donors, 2013.54. © Agnes Pelton

Another World is the first comprehensive traveling exhibition to explore the work by the Transcendental Painting Group and features over 75 paintings and drawings.

“This exhibition looks specifically at the ways art can be used as a tool to transcend,” said Philbrook President/CEO Scott Stulen. “My hope is for visitors to take time to immerse themselves in this show and feel the power and peace these beautiful works can manifest.”

According to the Group’s manifesto, they endeavored to “carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new concepts of space, color, light, and design, to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual.” In this desire to respond to a higher reality, the artists experimented with abstraction and explored their spiritual responses with an almost musical rhythm and luminous glow. The radiant paintings that resulted—uplifting, exploratory, and imaginative—offered a response to the suffering of the era that was caused by economic hardship and the violence of war.

“The ability to understand and respond to our shared difficulties, struggles, and uncertainties through art—and the need to search for a deeper meaning—is as relevant today as it was nearly a century ago,” said Philbrook curator Susan Green, Marcia Manhart Endowed Associate Curator for Contemporary Art and Design.

Eleven artists associated with the group are featured, including the guiding artists of the group, Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1982) and Emil Bisttram (American, 1895-1976), and significantly the two female members, Agnes Pelton (American, 1881-1961) and Florence Miller Pierce (American, 1918-2007).

Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group was organized by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, curated by Michael Duncan, and presented in Tulsa by Philbrook Museum of Art.

This exhibition was made possible with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

About Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art is committed to being Tulsa’s most welcoming and engaging cultural institution, providing a unique trifecta of experiences: a historic home, world class art museum, 25 acres of gardens. 

Philbrook Museum of Art opened on October 25, 1939. The addition of a 70,000 square foot wing in 1990 turned the historic home into a modern museum complex. A major garden renovation in 2004 cemented the Museum’s reputation as “the most beautiful place in Oklahoma.” 

Through bold action and strategic investment, we create a space for new ideas, diverse stories and perspectives, and social connection. The Philbrook Collection features more than 16,000 objects with a focus on American, Native American, and European art. Serving over 160,000 visitors annually, Philbrook shines a light on Tulsa’s storied and complex past while building a diverse and creative vision of the city’s future.