Life magazine sheds limelight on Northwest School painters on September 28, 1953.

  • By Paula Becker and Priscilla Long
  • Posted 3/02/2003
  • Essay 5342
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On September 28, 1953, Life magazine publishes an article titled "Mystic Painters of the Northwest" that catapults the painters Guy Anderson (1906-1998), Kenneth Callahan (1906-1986), Mark Tobey (1890-1976), and Morris Graves (1910-2001) into the national limelight. A key figure in obtaining this attention is the Seattle collector and gallery owner Zoë Dusanne (1884-1972). After this breakthrough publicity, the Northwest School is recognized around the country.

Zoë Dusanne's gallery was an important influence in introducing the public in Seattle to modern art, and she worked indefatigably for the Northwest artists she represented. In 1953, Dusanne served as intermediary between the Northwest artists and New York art critic Winthrop Sargent.

Sargent, a longtime friend of Dusanne’s, was at the time working for Life magazine. At Dusanne’s urging he sent art editor Dorothy Seiberling to Seattle to assess the local art scene. With Dusanne’s assistance, Sargent and Seiberling focused on Anderson, Callahan, Tobey, and Graves.


Deloris Tarzan Ament, with Photographs by Mary Randlett, Iridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 99; Paula Becker, "Dusanne, Zoe (1884-1972)," HistoryLink Metropedia Library (

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