Arts alliance


Better known as an avant-garde poet and a ballet dancer, Mark Turbyfill—to whom Poetry magazine devoted an entire issue in 1926, and who in the 1920s and ’30s was a principal dancer with the nation’s first ballet company, Chicago Allied Arts—was also a painter. He viewed the arts as a continuum and sought to give his poems the feeling, he said, “that they were practically three-dimensional instead of a flat thing on a page,” according to an explanatory poster at the Smart Museum, where an exhibit of Turbyfill’s paintings opened last week. The show spans two decades of his career, from the late-1940s to the mid-1960s, when he exhibited work frequently at Chicago galleries and his style evolved from “unsettling Surrealist-inspired figuration” to the abstract. Often giving his paintings evocative titles like Feast at Sunset and Pride of Place, Turbyfill sometimes incorporated text from his writing into the canvas.

Drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, the Smart exhibit runs through September 10.


Images: Mark Turbyfill, Untitled, 1953, Gouache on paperboard. Smart Museum of Art, The Joel Starrels Jr. Memorial Collection (top); Mark Turbyfill, Observation and Non-Identification, 1951, Tempera on paper. Smart Museum of Art, Gift of the artist (bottom).

June 23, 2006