Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) is best remembered for her spiritual abstract paintings, yet during her thirty years residing near Palm Springs, she simultaneously painted abstract and desert landscape paintings. She viewed these two styles—realism and abstraction—as complementary forms of expression that informed one another. Inspired by the exploration and study of her immediate environment, color and light became the essential means of expression in both of her approaches to painting.
Pelton had high regard for the natural beauty surrounding her and believed that every place had its own aura—which she referred to as “the voice of locality” and tried to convey in her paintings. In her landscape paintings, referred to as “my deserts”, Pelton was especially fond of capturing the expansive vistas that stretched out to the horizon, the shroud of purple blooms that encased smoke trees in June, and the ancient timeless character of desert willows.
Organized by Palm Springs Art Museum and curated by Christine Giles, this exhibition showcases approximately twenty of Pelton’s landscape and floral paintings drawn from the museum’s permanent collection and local private collections. This presentation complements the national touring exhibition Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist that will be presented at Palm Springs Art Museum simultaneously, providing visitors an opportunity to explore the unique relationship between these two forms of expression—realism and abstraction.
This exhibition is organized by Palm Springs Art Museum and curated by Christine Giles, Curator.
Support is provided by Joann Gray & Sheldon Harmatz.
This season’s exhibitions are sponsored by the Herman & Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation.