Summary of Stanton Macdonald-Wright
Best known as a co-founder of Synchromism, Stanton Macdonald-Wright was a pioneer, both as one of the first American avant-garde painters to receive international attention and for his role in introducing modern art to Los Angeles in the 1920s. He worked in both abstract and figurative styles, although both were guided by his belief in the harmonious and spiritual power of color, as well as his study of Asian art and belief systems.
- As one of the founders of Synchromism (with Morgan Russell), Stanton Macdonald-Wright developed the first American modernist style of painting. His radical embrace of abstraction and reliance on color and form to create movement and meaning, places him among the pioneers of non-objective painting. Although he would eventually return to figuration, his Synchromist works were among the first completely abstract paintings of the 20th century.
- Using color to express musical qualities, Macdonald-Wright experimented with the notion of synesthesia, a popular artistic and scientific concept at the time that also featured in the work of French Symbolists, the Orphists like Robert Delaunay, and the German Expressionist Wassily Kandinsky. Creating connections between color, music, and spirituality, Macdonald-Wright was integral in developing abstraction in Paris during the 1910s, and in transmitting these experimental ideas to his colleagues in America.
- Macdonald-Wright organized the first exhibition of modern art in Los Angeles and was instrumental in fostering a community of modern artists on the West Coast. His teaching and writings on color theory were important models for young California artists, providing an alternative to New York as a cultural center. His work with the Works Progress Administration in California during the 1930s also provided training and opportunities for many.
- With new interest in his career after World War II and the development of his Neo-Synchromist style, Macdonald-Wright was a critical advocate for the relevance of early American modernist painting during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. He was an important reminder that Modern Art had a history in America, particularly in the study of color theory.
Biography of Stanton Macdonald-Wright
Born to Archibald Davenport Wright and Annie van Vranken, Stanton MacDonald-Wright was named after women's rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whom his mother greatly admired. The family lived comfortably in Santa Monica, where his father ran a beachfront hotel. Archibald Wright was also an amateur artist, who encouraged Stanton's artistic talents, enrolling him in private art lessons as a young boy. His older brother, Willard Huntington Wright was an art writer and critic, who later wrote the very popular Philo Vance detective novels under the pseudonym S.S. Van Dine.