Let’s Hear it for the Girls 7: Agnes Pelton

Friend of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton has been hidden in the shadow of her more illustrious contemporary.

Born in Stuttgart, Germany to American parents, Agnes only moved to the US after the death of her father in 1890, a traumatic event for the 9 year old Agnes.

Agnes studied at the Pratt Institute between 1895 and 1900 and then continued her education with one of her tutors, Arthur Wesley Dow who also tutored Georgia O’Keeffe.  She also travelled to Rome where she took life classes and studied the work of Italian artists.  Looking at her works, you can see the links to the Renaissance art Agnes must have studied.

Agnes worked in New York City until her mother’s death in 1921 and she was widely travelled.   She eventually settled in Cathedral City, California in 1932.

During her lifetime, Agnes Pelton did not self-publicise nor did she exhibit widely.  However, since her death in 1961, her works have become more well-known.

For more on the life and career of Agnes Pelton:





The Awakening (1943)

In a work entitled ‘Awakening’, held in the New Mexico Museum of Art  (United States – Santa Fe, New Mexico), Agnes Pelton tackles the death of her father and the article by Joseph Traugott, in an article entitled NEW MEXICO MUSEUM OF ART: 100 YEARS Beyond Georgia and Agnes: 10 unsung women artists had this to say on the work:

Awakening at first may look like a collection of unrelated forms, but they are highly symbolic and thematically connected. The mountain range in the distant background is a distorted silhouette of the artist’s father, but the subject of the painting revolves around Gabriel — God’s special messenger — and his trumpet, which is depicted by the spiral flower. As Gabriel blows his trumpet, announcing Judgment Day, Pelton’s father rises from his grave, which is rendered in the foreground. Creating this work after more than fifty years of mental torment must have had a cathartic, liberating impact on Pelton.


Some of Agnes Pelton’s other abstract works are equally as stunning and quite beautiful to contrast with a cold winter’s day in the UK!



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