Agnes Pelton, Departure, 1952. Oil on canvas, 24 × 18 in. (61 × 45.7 cm). Collection of Mike Stoller and Corky Hale Stoller. Photograph by Paul Salveson




March 13 / June 28, 2020


Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) was a visionary symbolist who depicted the spiritual reality she experienced in moments of meditative stillness. Art for her was a discipline through which she gave form to her vision of a higher consciousness within the universe. Using an abstract vocabulary of curvilinear, biomorphic forms and delicate, shimmering veils of light, she portrayed her awareness of a world that lay behind physical appearances—a world of benevolent, disembodied energies animating and protecting life.  For most of her career, Pelton chose to live away from the distractions of a major art center, first in Water Mill, Long Island, from 1921 to 1932, and subsequently in Cathedral City, a small community near Palm Springs, California. Her isolation from the mainstream art world meant that her paintings were relatively unknown during her lifetime and in the decades thereafter. This exhibition of approximately forty-five works introduces to the public a little-known artist whose luminous, abstract images of transcendence are only now being fully recognized. 

Agnes Pelton, Untitled, 1931. Oil on canvas, 36 3/16 × 24 3/16 in. (91.9 × 61.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Modern Painting and Sculpture Committee 96.175



The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded in 1930 by the artist and philanthropist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942), houses the foremost collection of American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Mrs. Whitney, an early and ardent supporter of modern American art, nurtured groundbreaking artists at a time when audiences were still largely preoccupied with the Old Masters. From her vision arose the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has been championing the most innovative art of the United States for more than eighty years. The core of the Whitney’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit American art of our time and serve a wide variety of audiences in celebration of the complexity and diversity of art and culture in the United States. Through this mission and a steadfast commitment to artists themselves, the Whitney has long been a powerful force in support of modern and contemporary art and continues to help define what is innovative and influential in American art today.



Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is organized by Phoenix Art Museum.

In New York, major support is provided by the Judy Hart Angelo Exhibition Fund and the Barbara Haskell American Fellows Legacy Fund.

Generous support is provided by Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

Significant support is provided by the Opatrny Family Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Georgia and Michael de Havenon and Sarah Pearsall and Michael Lippert.




AAQ Resource: Joseph Pagac Architect