Alton Tobey

Tobey's "Fragments" Portrait of Albert Einstein
© 2018 Alton Tobey

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It is with profound sadness that that the family of artist Alton S. Tobey must announce that Alton died on Tuesday, January 4, 2005 after a long illness. Alton was an internationally renowned artist whose murals are in public places worldwide from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. His historical paintings have appeared in LIFE and many other magazines and dozens of books, and he was a founder of the Curvilinear School of painting. His family just recently joyfully celebrated his 90th birthday in November and unveiled the website that commemorates his life's work, at .
Services were held on Friday, Jan. 7 in Mamaroneck, New York. For more information, see the full text of the press release on his death at .

Alton S. Tobey was born in Middletown CT in 1914 and showed early promise in art when he won a competition sponsored by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art at the age of 9. He went on to receive his BFA and MFA at the Yale School of Fine Art, and taught there for a number of years, while also maintaining his own private art school and portrait studio.

During this time, he also received commissions for two WPA murals in public places in his home state of Connecticut, which led him into a successful career as a muralist. His murals are in the collections of The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; at The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA; aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Interpid’s Sea Air Space Museum in New York City and in many other public places, corporate headquarters and in collections of private patrons both in the United States and abroad.

His insistence in technical and historical accuracy in all his work gained him the attention of a number of book and magazine publishers, and led to his art being published extensively in LIFE magazine covers and features; he created over 350 historical paintings for “The Golden Books History of The United States” series; his works are in a book on the uses of energy throughout the ages entitled “Man and Power,” in “Epic of Man” and in many other publications. His work and techniques in research and illustration were the subject of a feature article by Eve Medoff in “American Artist” magazine in May 1976; and hundreds of articles and reviews of his work were in both national and international newspapers and magazines. A detailed “opus vitae” of his career, including his many commissions, exhibitions and awards can be seen on his website.

During all six decades of his extensive travels throughout the world researching his many projects and commissions, he also created a form of painting which he called “Fragments.” These were super-sized super-realistic renderings of facial features and other parts of human anatomy, created to intensify a viewer’s awareness of a detail of personality in the subjects of the figures. He also created many paintings based upon his own structured alphabet of abstract forms derived from Albert Einstein’s postulate that no true straight lines exist in nature. These paintings, which he called “Curvilinears,” have since become a school of painting in themselves. For him, the Curvilinears evolved from first the juxtaposition of the alphabetical forms into two-dimensional arrangements in black and white, through the addition of gray scale images, into the use of color, and finally became three dimensional bas-relief images enhanced with metallic elements and full three-dimensional sculptures. His Fragments and Curvilinears have been exhibited extensively in this country and in museums and galleries in Europe and South America.

Tobey was an active member of a number of arts organizations, both in his home community of Westchester County, New York and nationally. He held officerships, including that of president of organizations including Artist’s Equity of New York and the National Society of Mural Painters; and he was well-known to contribute his talents to many local projects and benefit groups in his home community, as well as doing a great deal of pro-bono teaching and benefit work.

His new website, launched on the occasion of his 90th birthday in November of 2004, includes over 400 of his paintings and a detailed illustrated biography, with over fifty photographs of him with family, working on his art and teaching. A selected number of the historical paintings, portraits and modern works including the “Fragments” and “Curvilinear” works from his private collection are now available to museums, galleries and corporations for exhibitions; and some are available for purchase. These paintings will be shown in the future on this website. More information may also be obtained by contacting the artist through the information in the contact section on this site or through his own website, which can be seen by clicking on the "studios" button below.

Studios of Alton Tobey

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