Untitled (Geometric Abstraction)
Encaustic painting, on fibrous buff wove paper, the image extending to the sheet edges, in excellent condition. Signed and dated, lower left. Estate stamped, verso.
The artist’s carefully stippled rendering in contrasting values produces the effect of shimmering color.
Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, dates back to ancient Greece. Traditionally colored pigments were added to heated beeswax, the oldest known pigment binder, to create the paint medium. The encaustic medium allows for a great variety of texture and has the advantage of not yellowing, of weathering well, and of being unaffected by moisture. The final surface may be polished with a soft cloth to create a luminous sheen.
In 1938 Emil Bisttram was one of the founding members of the Transcendental Painting Group in New Mexico. Seeking to emphasize the spiritual in art and it's value as a positive force in society, the group's member artists contributed to the early development of non-objective modernism in the Southwestern United States. Bisttram held that the spiritual beliefs of native cultures like the American Indians had a link to the divine that had been lost by western religions. His encaustic geometric works are precisely crafted, meditative explorations on his personal connection to these inner spiritual realities—his personal 'mandalas'. Created between 1936 and 1947, the artist never exhibited his encaustic works and only showed them privately toward the end of his life. A unique and relatively unexplored genre in the artist's highly acclaimed and otherwise well-documented oeuvre, they stand as essential and seminal works of the Transcendental Painting Group.
Bisttram is the recipient of numerous awards and is represented in major US museums including, Joslyn Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art.