Mark Tobey (1890 - 1976) was born in Wisconsin and died in Switzerland. In his long and productive life, he demonstrated an openness to a wide range of styles and the works of other creative artists. Although he is classified as an abstract expressionist painter, his later works have a mystical and spiritual quality to them.
This busy American spent time in China and Japan where he learned to paint with ink and brush. He also became a follower of the Baha'i religion which had a deep impact on his adaptation of "white writing" — an overlay of white or colored calligraphic symbols on an abstract field containing a surfeit of small and interwoven brushstrokes. This pictorial style may have had a lasting influence on Jackson Pollack's artistic creations.
Tobey was cosmopolitan by nature and Broadway (1935-1936) is a lively tribute to the energy, movement, and dynamism of New York City's most famous and popular milieu. In an interview in Katherine Kuh's book The Artist's Voice, he stated:
"At last I found a technical approach which enabled me to capture what specifically interested me in the city — its lights — threading traffic — the river of humanity chartered and flowing through and around its self-imposed limitations, not unlike chlorophyll flowing through the canals of a leaf." This complex Broadway scene is luminous, like its subject. It is a transformative painting that honors both the mystery and the motion of the city.