Marsden Hartley’s Maine
New York, 945 Madison Avenue
One of the most influential American painters, Marsden Hartley is the subject of a new survey at The Met Breuer with a focus on his paintings of Maine, where the artist was born in 1877. His hometown was a major influence for the painter who lived in Europe during the height of European avant-garde. While traces of his association with painters like Francis Picabia and Kurt Schwitters remain evident in his work, Hartley’s subject matter in this exhibition is Maine with its rocky shores, tempestuous waves, and lonesome lighthouses.
Local fishermen collecting lobsters by the sea or seasons changing from brisk fall to harsh winter revive in the artist’s lush brushstrokes and melancholic color palette. A total of ninety artworks featuring paintings and drawings, among which are self-portraits, chronicle the life of an artist who both was born and passed away in Maine. ReminiscingEuropean hills and mountains that were the subject of painters like Pual Cézanne and André Derain, Hartley’s paintings of the topographical texture of his Northeastern state both recall admiration and nostalgia, yet come from the hands of an artist who travelled overseas and now looking back to his home.
Co-organized by the museum curator Randall Griffey and Donna M. Cassidy from the University of Souther Maine, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by the poet Richard Deming and the museum conservators Isabelle Duvernois and Rachel Mustalish. “Hartley had a wonderfully rich, but complicated, and sometimes contradictory relationship with Maine, and I think that’s an experience that so many people can identify with, especially if you are from one place and you leave it, and then you try to come back. One of the key threads in this show is what happens upon return,” says the exhibition co-curator Randall Griffey.
On view through June 18, 2017