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  • Margaret Tomkins

    Art Brokerage: Margaret Tomkins American Artist: b. 1916-2002. Margaret Tomkins was an American Surrealist / Abstract expressionist painter. Though born, raised, and educated in Southern California, she spent most of her life in the Pacific Northwest, where she was well known both for her art and her energetic, outspoken art activism. Her Surrealist works of the 1940’s earned considerable national attention, and as her work evolved in the 1950’s and 60’s, she came to be known as a pioneer in Abstract expressionism. Tomkins was the driving force behind the first artist-owned gallery in Seattle, Washington. Though friends with many of the artists of the "Northwest School", she denied any artistic connection to these "mystic" painters, at times deriding their claims of quasi-magical inspiration from nature as "silly". She was similarly dismissive of any categorization based on her gender. She was married to painter and sculptor James FitzGerald, who died in 1973. She spent most of the last thirty years of her life living in a rustic home-studio in the San Juan Islands. She continued painting until a few days before her death, maintaining a distinctive abstract style in various phases. In the 1960s Tomkins, having shifted from tempera to oil painting, created the pure Abstract style for which she remains best-known today. Transformation and metamorphosis were common themes, with forms shape-shifting across her canvases, twisting and intertwining with or obscuring each other. She generally used a limited palette of grays, whites, and earth tones, with occasional flashes of red, blue, and yellow, developing an intricate symbolic language to express social and environmental concerns or reflect on personal experiences.

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