Landscapes of the Mind: New Conceptions of Nature
from The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989
D. Scott Atkinson & Kathleen Pyne
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This essay by Kathleen Pyne and D. Scott Atkinson discusses the influence of Asian art on the group of early-20th-century artists involved with Arthur Wesley Dow and the Stieglitz Circle in New York, as well as the Northwest School and Mark Tobey in the Pacific Northwest.
In letters to [Paul] Horiuchi, [Mark] Tobey would always give the same advice: "Be yourself." Horiuchi recalls thinking, "Easy to say; hard to do. What does it mean to be yourself in art? I think it means to work with your own rhythm." It was the exploration of Asian art that lead a select few American modernists to the discovery of the internal rhythms of nature, which opened modes of expression unavailable to those simply mimicking the European models championed by Stieglitz. In turn, what they discovered within themselves was a synchronicity with nature flowing from their own inner eye.