38 Items in this Learning Collection
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Copyright
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Broadway Melody

Accession Number
1949/1.152

Title
Broadway Melody

Artist(s)
Mark Tobey

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1945

Medium & Support
tempera on board

Dimensions
33 in x 26 in (83.82 cm x 66.04 cm);33 in x 26 in (83.82 cm x 66.04 cm);23 ¼ in x 17 in (59.06 cm x 43.18 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roger L. Stevens

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The theme of the city played a key role in the development of Tobey’s hallmark “white writing” style after his return from an extended trip to China and Japan in 1934. New York, in particular, came to represent a “universal city” for the artist, although he chose to live at a remove from the vibrant art scene that was developing there in the immediate postwar period.
Tobey continually revisited the subject of Broadway, a popular emblem of the spectacle of city lights and....life. His fascination was not, however, simply a matter of romantic glorification. Of his first Broadway painting, he wrote that it “astonished me as much as anyone else. Such a feeling of Hell under a lacy design—delicate in spirit but madness.” This feeling is characteristic of Broadway Melody as well. Its successive overlays of rapidly constructed images and writing (the evocative word “tomorrow” is clearly legible in the upper left corner of the painting) both build up the pictured scene to give a sense of depth, and overwhelm the figures interspersed throughout. The dense repetition from one end of the canvas to the other of similar elements without strong variation would become a defining feature of the Abstract Expressionist style of painting, which Tobey pioneered along with his New York counterparts.

Subject matter
figures and white calligraphic pattern

Physical Description
abstract painting, tempera on board

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
abstract

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

Rights
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Keywords
New York City
abstraction
calligraphy
city
cityscapes (representations)
modern and contemporary art

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved