In the early 1910s, John Marin executed a series of oil paintings on small canvasboards in and around Weehawken, New Jersey. The artist later dated these to as early as 1903, but given the wildly advanced nature of their composition, scholarly consensus has settled upon the early half of the following decade as their moment of genesis. We affirm the dating proposed by the catalogue raisonne: that they were completed by 1916. Even then, they represented, in Roberta Smith's words, “possibly the first American artist to make abstract paintings” [Roberta Smith, “John Marin: The Weehawken Sequence,” The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2001]. These stunning forays into modernism are not only some of the most advanced paintings made in America before World War I, they also circumscribe the territory of modernism within which Marin would spend the rest of his life on expedition.
The present work depicts what would become a favorite motif across Marin's career: sun shining through clouds above a waterway. The radiant treatment of the sky is a hallmark, but the cool palette makes the work extraordinary. The work comes to us from the estate of the artist, whom Menconi + Schoelkopf represents exclusively.
The artist; to His estate, until the present
Mackinley Helm, “John Marin: A Portrait,” John Marin, A Retrospective Exhibition, Boston: Institute of Modern Art, 1947, p. 15 // Mackinley Helm, John Marin, Boston: publisher, 1948, p. 9 // Sheldon Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, Tucson, 1970, p. 434, no. 16.95, illus.
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