Advanced Search
Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

Au Café (Synchromy)

Artist: Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890 - 1973)
Date: 1918
50 x 28 in. (127 x 71.1 cm)
Framed: 58 5/16 in. × 36 1/4 in. × 3 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
On View
Label TextAu Café (Synchromy) first appears to be a pure abstraction. Upon closer inspection, however, two figures emerge. In the upper half of the composition, a woman wearing a hat raises a glass toward her lips; a man sits below, his profile a sequence of overlapping color wedges.

Together with compatriot Morgan Russell, Stanton Macdonald-Wright founded the art movement “Synchromism” in Paris in 1912. The word means “with color,” just as “symphony” means “with sound.” Macdonald-Wright and Russell wanted to express the idea that music and color are similar. Synchromist paintings were based on color “scales” that were similar to musical scales. Macdonald-Wright arranged his brilliant, jewel-like pigments in staggered blocks and prismatic shapes, as if to mimic sequences of musical chords.