The abstract "synchromies" are based on color scales, using rhythmic color forms with advancing and reducing hues. They typically have a central vortex and explode in complex color harmonies. The Synchromists avoided using atmospheric perspective or line, relying solely on color and shape to express form.
The earliest synchromist works were similar to Fauvist paintings. The multicolored shapes of synchromist paintings also resembled those found in orphism. MacDonald-Wright insisted, however, that Synchromism was a unique art form, and "has nothing to do with orphism and anybody who has read the first catalogue of synchromism ... would realize that we poked fun at orphism".
George Wesley Bellows
Synchromism was developed by Stanton MacDonald-Wright and Morgan Russell while they were studying in Paris during the early 1910s. From 1911 to 1913, they studied under the Canadian painter Percyval Tudor-Hart, whose color theory connected qualities of color to qualities of music, such as tone to hue and intensity to saturation. Also influential upon MacDonald-Wright and Russell were the paintings of the Impressionists, Cézanne, and Matisse, which heavily emphasized color. Russell coined the term "synchromism" in 1912, in an express attempt to convey the linkage of painting and music.
The first synchromist painting, Russell's Synchromy in Green, exhibited at the Paris Salon des Indépendants in 1913. Later that year, the first synchromist exhibition by Macdonald-Wright and Russell was shown in Munich. Exhibits followed in Paris in October 1913, and in New York in March 1914. Macdonald-Wright moved back to the U.S. in 1914, but he and Russell continued to separately paint abstract synchromies. Synchromism remained influential well into the 1920s. Other American painters who experimented with Synchromism include Thomas Hart Benton, Andrew Dasburg, Patrick Henry Bruce, and Albert Henry Krehbiel.