Internationally renowned artist Alton S. Tobey died on Tuesday, January 4th after a long illness.He was a long time resident of Larchmont, New York; creator of dozens of murals at the Smithsonian Institution and many other public places worldwide; illustrator for thousands of books and other publications; and a founder of the Curvilinear school of painting,

Alton Tobey was best known for the murals, which he called "symphonies of painting". They were the first works for which he achieved national acclaim after graduating and teaching art at Yale University. Today, his murals grace the halls of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA., The Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York and dozens of other public buildings throughout the world.

Tobey was a distinguished historian and art educator, and served on numerous non-profit organizations, where he regularly donated his time and talents. He held the office of president in The National Society of Mural Painters, Artist's Equity of New York and The Mamaroneck Artist's Guild, and was the recipient of many art awards including the WPA Murals Award, The Edwin Abbey Mural Award, The Lindner Memorial Award; and others from Grumbacher, The Westchester Society and The Westchester Council for The Arts, to name a few.

His dedication to research, science and history spawned a career as an illustrator for LIFE magazine, 350 paintings for The Golden Books History of the United States, and for paintings in dozens of other books and periodicals. In a May 1976 feature article in American Artist magazine, Tobey's historical paintings were described as works of "loving accuracy," and Tobey as an artist of "...insatiable curiosity, diligent investigation, well developed powers of visualization, and consummate craftsmanship."

Although his historical work recreated thousands of figures from the past; Tobey also did many portraits of his contemporaries. His portrait "Brothers United," of John F. and Robert Kennedy, and his depictions of the Apollo II astronauts were made into prints and were loved and collected by millions worldwide. On portraits, Tobey said: "In creating a portrait of someone - whether painted, sculpted, drawn or photographed, we must look carefully to catch that particular unique [personal] quality. In fact, we can neglect nothing." Many of his other works were reproduced in both limited and open editions by Scafa Tournabene, The Franklin Mint, Royal Doulton and other art print and collectibles publishers.

As a Modernist painter, he was a founder of the Curvilinear school of painting based upon the theories of Albert Einstein. He had dozens of one-man exhibitions of his Curvilinears, his Fragments paintings, and his dimensional conceptual works in museums and galleries both locally and internationally. Over 400 of his paintings from every period of the six decades of his work, and a detailed illustrated biography of Tobey are on his website, launched just this past November to celebrate his 90th birthday, at

Tobey, who was the brother of the late Unis and Burt Tobey, is survived by his son David, who is also both a painter and a musician; by his daughter Judy who lives in Chicago; and by his grandchildren, Andrew and Elizabeth.

Services will be held at Zion Memorial Chapel at 785 East Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck, NY (10543) on Friday, January 7th at 11:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the fund established by the Mamaroneck Artist Guild to nurture and encourage young artists: The Alton S. Tobey Scholarship Fund, c/o Mamaroneck Artist Guild; 2120 Boston Post Road; Larchmont, NY 10538. Make check payable to MAG and notate "Tobey Fund" in the memo section.

printer-friendly version Print This Page--For best results, use landscape option in Preferences
send to a friend Email this article