Emil James Bisttram (1895-1976)
Emil James Bisttram (1895-1976)

Pulsation--The Oversoul

Emil James Bisttram (1895-1976)
Pulsation--The Oversoul
signed 'Bisttram' (lower right)
oil on canvas
60 ¼ x 45 in. (153 x 114.3 cm.)
Painted in 1938.
The artist.
Estate of the above.
[With]Martin Diamond Fine Arts, Inc., New York.
Private collection, acquired from the above, 1981.
By descent to the present owner.
Golden Gate International Exhibition, Department of Fine Arts, Division of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Contemporary Art: Official Catalog, exhibition catalogue, San Francisco, 1939, p. 32, no. 27 (as Pulsation).
A. Morang, Transcendental Painting, Taos, New Mexico, 1940, p. 7, illustrated (as Fulfillment).
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Reports of the Secretary and Treasurer, New York, 1943, p. 231.
G. Eberlein, Il Libro del Training Autogeno, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1973, cover illustration.
Arts Magazine, vol. 56, 1982, p. 30.
M. Diamond, Who Were They? My Personal Contact with Thirty-Five American Modernists Your Art History Course Never Mentioned, 1995, p. 45.
San Francisco, California, Treasure Island, Golden Gate International Exposition: Contemporary Art, February 18-December 2, 1939, no. 27 (as Pulsation).
Santa Fe, New Mexico, State Art Museum, 31st Annual Fiesta Art Exhibition of Painters and Sculptors of the Southwest, August 1944.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Albuquerque Museum, The Transcendental Painting Group, New Mexico, 1938-1941, June 6-September 12, 1982.

Lot Essay

Emil Bisttram was among the first Taos painters to diverge from the academic and highly representational painting style that characterized early Taos School pictures. Under the influence of his contemporaries Charles Sheeler, Andrew Dasburg and John Marin, Bisttram sought a unique modern aesthetic in his depictions of the Southwest, which distinguished him from his peers and identified him as an influential member of the Taos Art Colony. In 1938, Bisttram, along with Raymond Jonson, founded the Transcendental Painting Group based in New Mexico. Profoundly interested in transcendentalist theory, the writings of Wassily Kandinsky and Nicholas Roerich, Bisttram's style from the period reflected his interest in cosmic abstractions based on Jay Hambidge's Dynamic Symmetry theory. For the artist, the use of symmetry and proportion in his compositions was deeply symbolic. Pulsation--The Oversoul, is a large scale and important painting that is representative of Bisttram’s best abstract compositions. It clearly demonstrates the premium the artist placed on symmetry, depicting a radiating circular form centered against a deep blue sky, meant to represent the cosmos. Bisttram made a print of this image, called The Onement, demonstrating his affinity for this particular composition.

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