John Marin American, 1870-1953

Biography

“I demand of [my paintings] that they are related to experiences ... that they have the music of themselvesso that they do stand of themselves as beautiful-forms-lines and paint on beautiful paper or canvas.”

John Marin

John Marin is a pioneer in American modernism and abstraction. Marin’s contributions to the canon are becoming more widely recognized amongst an international audience, some 70 years after he became the first American to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 1950. Marin enjoyed continued critical and commercial success throughout his career which was instigated by his meeting Alfred Stieglitz in 1909; a pivotal moment for the artist as Stieglitz championed Marin’s advancements in abstraction and in watercolor as a medium.

Perhaps most enticing, however, from the perspectives of both visual iconography and emotional response to the artist’s work, are the ‘bursts’ of energy with which Marin paints. When examining an early watercolor from the artist’s first summer in Maine in 1912, or a late oil painted in 1952, the same fervor is experienced, the same restless and relentless energy with which Marin sought to capture the natural world. It is in the translation of this experience from Marin’s eyes to our own, in which the artist’s brilliance and impact is at its best.

 

Perhaps most enticing, however, from the perspectives of both visual iconography and emotional response to the artist’s work, are the ‘bursts’ of energy with which Marin paints, which he miraculously sustained throughout his career. When we examine an early watercolor from the artist’s first summer in Maine in 1912, or a late oil painted in 1952, we experience the same fervor, the same restless and relentless energy with which Marin sought to capture the natural world. It is in the translation of this experience from Marin’s eyes to our own, in which the artist’s brilliance and impact is at its best.

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