Color, Myth, and Music: The Movement

What is Synchromism?

SynchromismA form of abstract art focusing on color, Synchromism is an art movement conceived in 1912 by American painters Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell. While the two artists were living in Paris, they painted abstract works they called "synchromies."

While synchromist paintings paraded multicolored shapes that resembled the circular movement of The Orphist Cubists, Robert Delaunay and Frantisek Kupka, Macdonald-Wright insisted on Synchromism as a unique art form. Synchromist abstractions typically originate from a central vortex and thrive on complex color harmonies. Peers of Picasso, Braque and The Delaunays, Macdonald-Wright and Russell believed that color had sound equivalents and that if they painted in color scales as music is composed in scales, their paintings would evoke musical sensations.

Russell exhibited the first Synchromist painting, "Synchromy in Green," at The Paris Salon des Indépendants in 1913. The same year saw the first Synchromist exhibition in Munich, followed by one in Paris at The Galerie Berheim-Jeune. In March of the next year, they displayed their works at The Carroll Gallery in New York. Macdonald-Wright's works used rhythmic color forms to abstract his natural models.

Thomas Hart Benton, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Andrew Dasburg were among the American painters who explored Synchromism.