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John Marin
American, 1870 - 1953

Marin Island, Small Point, Maine, 1931
American Watercolor
Watercolor with graphite on paper
17 x 21 3/4 in. (43.2 x 55.2 cm), sheet

Marion Stratton Gould Fund,  51.10

Not currently on view  

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About the Object

Like Arthur G. Dove and Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin aligned himself with the avant-garde circle surrounding Alfred Stieglitz.  While Marin's favorite subjects were landscapes and seascapes, particularly Maine marines, he applied to them the modernist sensibilities that he absorbed from European masters like Cézanne, whose first one-man show was at Stieglitz's Gallery 291 in 1911. The island that Marin depicts here is one that he purchased in 1914 immediately after getting married.  It is off the coast of Maine, near Portland.  The Maine landscape drew Marin back throughout his life.  

A chief characteristic of twentieth century painting has been the practice of artists to transform subject with emotion, or as Marin's fellow painter Arthur Dove describes it, to pull the subject matter out and leave the sensation.  Here, Marin sketches in the bare bones of his island but then folds it in as part of an all-over expression of action and energy, as if to suggest that the land mass is one with the wind and the waves.  

[Gallery label text, 2006]