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Seeing America

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Marin Island, Small Point, Maine

1931
17 x 21 3/4 in. (43.2 x 55.2 cm)

John Marin
American (Rutherford, NJ, 1870 - 1953, Cape Split, ME)

Object Type: Watercolor
Medium and Support: Watercolor with graphite on paper
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1951.10
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view
Collection: Encyclopedia Britannica Collection

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]

Marks
Artist's signature, lower right: Marin 31


Provenance
Purchased by the Encyclopedia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting, Chicago, IL; purchased by Senator William Benton, CT, 1948; purchased by the Gallery in 1951

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Seeing America Inservice Materials from a teacher in-service presentation Spring 2008
Seeing America Chapter on John Marin's Marin Island, Small Point, Maine, written by Elizabeth Hutton Turner.


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