Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist will be the first survey of this under recognized American painter in over 22 years. Her distinctive paintings could be described as metaphysical landscapes rooted in the California desert near Cathedral City. Pelton chiefly drew on her own inspirations, superstitions and beliefs to exemplify emotional states.
The publication seeks to clarify the artist’s significance and role within the cannon of American Modernism but also against the legacy of European abstraction. It contextualizes her work against her contemporaries, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe, and their distinct versions of American spiritual modernism. Pelton’s highly symbolic paintings were inspired by religious sources ranging from Theosophy and Agni Yoga to the spiritual teachings of Dane Rudhyar and Will Levington Comfort. Over three decades she devoted herself to painting spiritual abstractions, which conveyed her “light message to the world.”