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Smith
Pamela Coleman Smith
Second Series, Duet, Sonata in F Major for Violin and Piano, Mozart
Watercolor on paper
9.75 x 10.25 inches
1907
Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe Archive

 

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Inspired by the Rosicrucian theory of correspondence, Pamela Coleman Smith began to paint while listening to music, allowing the sound to influence her compositions. “They are not pictures of the music themes—pictures of the flying notes—not conscious illustrations of the name given to a piece of music,” Smith told an interviewer, “but just what I see when I hear the music—thoughts loosened and set free by the spell of sound.” Smith took inspiration from the work of different composers, making each painting a response and record of her experience of a unique piece of music. These paintings have been said to foreshadow some of the tonal elements of the Surrealist painters of the next several decades. Though she lived for much of her adult life in London, artist Pamela Coleman Smith was associated with Alfred Stieglitz’s famous gallery, 291. In 1907, her paintings to music were exhibited at Stieglitz’s Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. Smith was, in fact, the first painter to have an exhibition in what had, until then, been a gallery devoted to photography.

1 Quoted in Melinda Boyd Parsons, To All Believers: The Art of Pamela Coleman Smith, Wilmington: Delaware, 1975, p. [8].

 

 

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