Hartley, Marsden

Hartley, Marsden,

1877–1943, American painter widely considered the first great American modernist of the 20th cent., b. Lewiston, Maine. He was educated in Cleveland, but early in his career (1899) went to New York City, where he studied under William Merritt ChaseChase, William Merritt,
1849–1916, American painter, b. Williamsburg, Ind., studied in Indianapolis and in Munich under Piloty. In 1878 he began his long career as an influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York and later established his own summer school of
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 and at the National Academy of Design. In 1909 his landscapes were shown at the Stieglitz gallery. During the next 12 years he made three trips to Europe and one to the Southwest. His work showed the influence successively of the French and German moderns. In Berlin (1913–15), he painted strong works, e.g., Portrait of a German Officer (1914), that combined cubist composition with expressionist handling (see cubismcubism,
art movement, primarily in painting, originating in Paris c.1907. Cubist Theory

Cubism began as an intellectual revolt against the artistic expression of previous eras.
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; expressionismexpressionism,
term used to describe works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision. The expressionist transforms nature rather than imitates it.
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), and he exhibited with KleeKlee, Paul
, 1879–1940, Swiss painter, graphic artist, and art theorist, b. near Bern. Klee's enormous production (more than 10,000 paintings, drawings, and etchings) is unique in that it represents the successful combination of his sophisticated theories of art with a
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 and KandinskyKandinsky, Wassily or Vasily
, 1866–1944, Russian abstract painter and theorist. Usually regarded as the originator of abstract art, Kandinsky abandoned a legal career for painting at 30 when he moved to Munich.
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 in Munich. Although his early works were often almost entirely abstract, Hartley returned to representation after 1920, often depicting nature with a forceful simplicity. In 1937 he returned to Maine, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He is known for his still lifes and, most of all, for his paintings of Maine's people and landscapes, the latter (particularly Mount KatahdinKatahdin
, mountain, 5,267 ft (1,605 m) high, between branches of the Penobscot River in N central Maine; highest point in Maine. The peak and the beautifully wooded, lake-dotted territory surrounding it constitute Baxter State Park, the gift of Gov. Percival P. Baxter in 1931.
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 in a variety of lights, weathers, and moods) his first and last great subjects. Hartley is represented in many leading American museums.


See catalog by W. Mitchell (1970); My Dear Stieglitz: Letters of Marsden Hartley and Alfred Stieglitz, 1912–1915 (2002), ed. by J. T. Voorhies; his autobiographical Somehow a Past (1996), ed. by S. E. Ryan; biographies by T. Ludington (1992) and B. Robertson (1995); studies by G. R. Scott (1988), J. Hokin (1993), E. M. Kornhauser, ed. (2003), D. M. Cassidy (2005), and P. McDonell (2007).