This is an extract from Modern Art.
Synchromism (meaning ‘with colour’, derived from Greek) was a style of painting invented by two American painters, Morgan Russell and Stanton Macdonald-Wright. They drew on the structural principles of Cubism and the colour theories of the Neo-Impressionists in their experiments in colour abstraction. Like their contemporaries, they strove to formulate a system in which meaning did not rely on resemblance to objects in the outside world, but was derived from the results of colour and form on canvas.
Russell was also a musician and his aim was to orchestrate colour and form into harmonious compositions like those in musical symphonies. The musical analogy, and other Synchromist features, are visible in Russell’s monumental painting Synchromy in Orange: To Form (1913–14). Cubist structures are enlivened by chromatic combinations and free-flowing rhythms and arcs, which create a sense of dynamism.
The Synchromists exhibited in Munich, Paris and New York in 1913 and 1914, causing uproar and controversy. They exerted an enormous influence on other American artists, however, such as Thomas Hart Benton, Patrick Henry Bruce and Arthur B. Davies, who were all called Synchromists at some point in their careers. By the end of the First World War Synchromism had almost entirely died out, with many of its practitioners returning to figuration.
Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890–1973), USA
Morgan Russell (1886–1953), USA
Vivid colours and geometric shapes
Free-flowing rhythms and arcs
A sense of movement and dynamism
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA
Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ, USA
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, New York, NY, USA
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA