Pensive Observer, 1955
mixed media on board
Signed and dated lower left.
Biography from the archives of the Newberry Library:
Mark Turbyfill, born in 1896, came to Chicago in 1911 with his parents from Oklahoma City. A published poet while still in his teens, Turbyfill's professional dance career began in 1919 when he was invited to join the Pavley-Oukrainsky corps de ballet with the Chicago Grand Opera Company. He later became principal dancer under Adolph Bolm with the Chicago Allied Arts and partnered Chicago dancer and choreographer Ruth
Page, continuing to dance through the 1920s and 1930s. He was the first teacher of Katherine Dunham, unsuccessfully trying to establish her in an all "Negro" ballet company.
Turbyfill first gained renown as a poet in the 1920s, mainly for his contributions to the worlds of avant-garde verse. His poems appeared in Margaret Anderson's The Little Review and Harriet Monroe's Poetry and other magazines. The May, 1926, issue of Poetry was devoted entirely to his long poem, A Marriage With Space, which was later reprinted with other poems in 1974. A collection of his verse, entitled The Words Beneath Us, appeared in 1951.
Beginning in the 1940s, Turbyfill concentrated on his third artistic interest – painting. His initial paintings and collages showed a strong surrealist influence, but he moved on to a style of abstract expressionism, which he practiced until the 1970s. Turbyfill's first solo exhibit was in 1948, and in the 1950s and 1960s he had a number of one-man gallery shows. Seeing continuity in all his creative endeavors, at times he utilized texts lifted from his own poetry in both figurative and abstract paintings and drawings.
Mark Turbyfill had three active and successful careers as dancer, artist and poet, which he recorded in his unpublished autobiography, Whistling in the Windy City: Memoirs of a Poet-Dancer-Painter. Among the many persons he writes about are Margaret Anderson, Adolph Bolm, Katherine Dunham, Henry B. Fuller, Amy Lowell, Maurice Maeterlinck, Harriet Monroe, Samuel Putnam, Eunice Tietjens and Mark Tobey. Among the topics are the Chicago Allied Arts, G.I. Gurdjieff and his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, and the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet Company.
Turbyfill died in 1990.
24"H x 19"W (sight)
mixed media on board