In and around Seattle in the 1930s and 1940s, there emerged a group of artists who came to be known informally as the Northwest School. With no manifesto and no sense of group identity, they had little in common beyond poverty and the drive to make art in a way that was true to their inner being and their environment. Despite their denial that they constituted a school, their response to Northwest light and to the world around them created a distinctive style that continued to evolve over the next sixty years; In Iridescent Light, the distinguished art critic Deloris Tarzan Ament profiles twenty-one of these artists who lived and worked in Washington State during formative periods in their careers. In essays adorned by nearly one hundred photographs taken over half a century by Mary Randlett, also profiled here, the author blends discussion of their work with commentary on the obstacles they faced and the influences they brought to bear on one another, showing not only how artistic visions were shaped but also how the encouragement of a few farseeing patrons enabled the very survival of these artists; Their sources were the unique cultural mix of the Northwest together with the land itself as it appeared in the region's characteristically diffused light. They tended to work small, using a subdued palette indigenous to Northwest nature and achieving their effects with delicacy, on an intimate scale. Although their art defied easy classification, its figures seemed imbued with cosmic meaning, its landscapes fractured by a light that appeared to come from all directions, bathing objects in luminosity and minimising shadow; This inner light was matched by an outer light, brought by Asian immigrants whose approaches to life and art seemed refreshing and exotic to the region's Scandinavians and transplanted Midwesterners. This generation of Northwest artists found inspiration in the gestural symbolism of Asian calligraphy, enjoying access not just to prints but also to Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean artists themselves, whom they could watch at work, question, and engage in the exchange of ideas; The Northwest School-the school whose members denied its existence-is alive and well today, encompassing a wide range of styles and media, with works still permeated, regardless of style, by a shimmering light, a reflection of luminous Northwest mist.
Book Condition: Dust jacket in very good condition. Pages all crisp and clean.