Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist at Whitney Museum of American Art, March 13 – June 21, 2020*

“Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) was a visionary symbolist who depicted the spiritual reality she experienced in moments of meditative stillness. Art for her was a discipline through which she gave form to her vision of a higher consciousness within the universe. Using an abstract vocabulary of curvilinear, biomorphic forms and delicate, shimmering veils of light, she portrayed her awareness of a world that lay behind physical appearances—a world of benevolent, disembodied energies animating and protecting life. For most of her career, Pelton chose to live away from the distractions of a major art center, first in Water Mill, Long Island, from 1921 to 1932, and subsequently in Cathedral City, a small community near Palm Springs, California. Her isolation from the mainstream art world meant that her paintings were relatively unknown during her lifetime and in the decades thereafter. This exhibition of approximately forty-five works introduces to the public a little-known artist whose luminous, abstract images of transcendence are only now being fully recognized.” — Whitney Museum of American Art


Agnes Pelton, Messengers, 1932. Oil on canvas. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum; Gift of The Melody S. Robidoux Foundation.


Agnes Pelton, Day, 1935. Oil on canvas. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum; Gift of The Melody S. Robidoux Foundation.

Highlights of the Gallery of California Art, Oakland Museum of California

Agnes Pelton, Orbits, 1934. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 × 30 in. (92.1 × 76.2 cm). Oakland Museum of California; gift of Concours d’Antiques, the Art Guild of the Oakland Museum of California

Pelton_The Blest

Agnes Pelton, The Blest, 1941. Oil on canvas, 37 1/2 × 28 1/4 in. (95.3 × 71.8 cm). Collection of Georgia and Michael de Havenon. Photograph by Martin Seck


Agnes Pelton, Future, 1941. Oil on canvas. Collection of Palm Springs Art Museum, 75th Anniversary gift of Gerald E. Buck in memory of Bente Buck, Best Friend and Life Companion.


Agnes Pelton, Departure, 1952. Oil on canvas, 24 × 18 in. (61 × 45.7 cm). Collection of Mike Stoller and Corky Hale Stoller. Photograph by Paul Salveson

Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is organized by the Phoenix Art Museum, and curated by Gilbert Vicario, The Selig Family Chief Curator. The installation at the Whitney Museum is overseen by Barbara Haskell, curator, with Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant.

Images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.

*PLEASE NOTE: Whitney Museum of American Art is temporarily closed.