Mark Tobey. The Void Devouring the Gadget Era. 1942
Mark Tobey

The Void Devouring the Gadget Era

1942
Not on view
Medium
Tempera on board
Dimensions
21 7/8 x 30" (55.3 x 76.0 cm)
Credit
Gift of the artist
Object number
264.1964
Copyright
© 2015 Estate of Mark Tobey / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Drawings and Prints

Tobey, a follower of Zen philosophy, believed that spiritual awakening could take place through everyday encounters. In The Void Devouring the Gadget Era, translucent tempera wash partially obscures a dense backdrop of fragmented symbols. Two years later, Tobey cleared his paintings of iconography and created allover patterns that resist a single focal point. Cage purchased one of these works shortly after its completion in 1944. He recalled that after leaving the gallery, “I happened to look at the pavement, and I noticed that the experience . . . was the same as the experience of looking at the Tobey.”

Cage met Tobey in Seattle in the late 1930s, and he credited him for heightening his awareness of the phenomena that exist in ordinary occurrences. In his writings, Cage described a walk to a Japanese restaurant that extended over many hours as Tobey was “constantly stopping and pointing out things to see, opening my eyes.”

Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource