Do you know who Marsden Hartley was? If you are interested in what Maine has contributed to the culture of the world, then you should know who he is even if you do not know yet. Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine in 1877 and died in Ellsworth in 1943. His contribution to world culture? Wikipedia calls him an American Modernist painter and says “he wanted to become ‘the painter of Maine’ and depict American life at a local level. This aligned Hartley with the Regionalism movement, a group of artists active from the early- to mid-20th century that attempted to represent a distinctly ‘American art.’ He continued to paint in Maine, primarily scenes around Lovell and the Corea coast, until his death in Ellsworth in 1943. His ashes were scattered on the Androscoggin River.”
Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville is currently featuring an exhibition titled Marsden Hartley’s Maine which will run through November 12, 2017. The museum’s web site at http://www.colby.edu/museum reports that, “This exhibition will explore Marsden Hartley’s complex, sometimes contradictory, and visually arresting relationship with his native state—from the lush Post-Impressionist inland landscapes with which he launched his career, to the later roughly rendered paintings of Maine’s rugged coastal terrain, its hardy inhabitants, and the magisterial Mount Katahdin.
Hartley’s renowned abstract German series, New Mexico recollections, and Nova Scotia period have been celebrated in previous exhibitions, but Marsden Hartley’s Maine will illuminate Maine as a critical factor in understanding the artist’s high place in American art history. Maine served as an essential slate upon which he pursued new ideas and theories. It was a lifelong source of inspiration intertwined with his personal history, cultural milieu, and desire to create a regional expression of American modernism.
The exhibition is organized by the Colby College Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Check out this exhibition for the unique style with which Hartley has been celebrated, for the man’s unique view of Maine and its inhabitants, and for the wonderful Colby College Museum of Art building and collection which have a splendor all their own.