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John Marin (December 23, 1870 – October 2, 1953) born in Rutherford, New Jersey, was an early American modernist artist.[1] He was known for his abstract landscapes and watercolors.


Marin grew up in Weehawken, New Jersey, and attended the Stevens Institute of Technology for a year.[2] His experience with architecture might have contributed to the role played by architectural themes in his paintings and watercolors. Marin is often credited with influencing the Abstract Expressionists. He was among the first American artists to make abstract paintings,[3] and his treatment of paint—handling oils almost like watercolors—his forays into abstraction, and his use of evocative stretches of bare canvas caught the eye of younger painters.[4]
Group of artists in 1912, L to R : Paul Haviland, Abraham Walkowitz, Katharine N. Rhoades, Stieglitz's wife Emily, Agnes Ernst (Mrs. Eugene Meyer), Alfred Stieglitz, J.B. Kerfoot, John Marin

From 1899 to 1901, Marin attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In Philadelphia he studied with Thomas Pollock Anshutz and William Merritt Chase. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York. In 1905 like many American artists Marin went to Europe, initially to Paris.[5] He traveled through Europe for six years. Marin painted in Holland, Belgium, England, and Italy. In Europe he mastered a type of watercolor where he achieved an abstract ambience, almost a pure abstraction with color that ranges from transparency to translucency, accompanied by strong opacities, and linear elements, always with a sense of freedom, which became one of his trademarks.

In 1909, Marin held his first one-man exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, 291 in New York City. The photographer Edward Steichen, whom Marin had met through the painter Arthur B. Carles, introduced him to Stieglitz. Marin’s and Stieglitz’s association would last nearly forty years. Stieglitz’s support, in both philosophical and financial respects, was essential to Marin.[6] From 1909 until his death in 1946, Stieglitz showed Marin's work almost every year in one of his galleries.[7]

Marin spent his first summer in Maine in 1914 and, almost immediately, the rocky coast there became one of his favorite subjects. Over the rest of his life, Marin became intimately familiar with the many moods of the sea and sky in Maine.[8] “In painting water make the hand move the way the water moves,” Marin wrote in a 1933 letter to an admirer of his technique.[9]

In 1936, he had a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art. His paintings are represented in several important permanent collections and museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and many others.
Weehawken Sequence, ca. 1916

Late in life Marin achieved tremendous prestige as an American painter, an elder statesman of American art. In 1950, he was honored by the University of Maine and Yale University with honorary degree's of Doctor of Fine Arts.[10]

A resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, he died at his summer home in Addison, Maine.[11]
Sources and notes

1. ^ Johnson, Ken. "ART REVIEW; A Restless Explorer Of Early Abstraction", The New York Times, December 25, 1998. Accessed December 27, 2007. "In 1908 Marin was living in Paris and enjoying some success as an etcher of Whistlerian city scenes. He was in his late 30's, artistically a late bloomer. (He was born in Rutherford, N.J., in 1870.)"
2. ^ "Out of the Dark Room", Time (magazine), March 16, 1962. Accessed June 13, 2007. "In many ways, it took Marin 40 years to find himself. Raised by two maiden aunts in Weehawken. N.J. (his mother died nine days after his birth), he attended Stevens Institute of Technology for a year, drifted from job to job, spent six frustrating weeks trying to turn himself into an architect."
3. ^ Smith, Roberta, "John Marin: ‘The Weehawken Sequence’", New York Times, February 17, 2011
4. ^ "Art in Review", New York Times, October 26, 2006.
5. ^
6. ^ John Marin | American Modernist | Hollis Taggart Galleries
7. ^ John Marin represented by Meredith Ward Fine Art
8. ^ The Estate of John Marin | Meredith Ward Fine Art
9. ^ "Art in Review", The New York Times, December 18, 2008.
10. ^ M B F A- Mark Borghi Fine Art Inc - American Art - John Marin (1870 -1953)
11. ^ Staff. "JOHN MARIN IS DEAD; WATER-COLORIST, 80; Artist Considered by Many as 'America's No. 1 Master' Succumbs in Maine Home", The New York Times, October 2, 1953. Accessed March 22, 2011. "A native of Rutherford, N. J., he maintained a winter home in Cliffside Park, N. J."

Further reading

* Fine R. (1990). John Marin. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art.
* Fine, R. (2003). The John Marin collection at the Colby College Museum of Art. Waterville, ME: Colby College Museum of Art.
* Gray, C. (Ed.). (1970). John Marin. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
* Harnsberger, R.S. (2002). Four artists of the Stieglitz Circle: a sourcebook on Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Max Weber [Art Reference Collection, no. 26]. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
* Kertess, K. (1987). Marin in oil. Southampton, NY: Parrish Art Museum.
* Marin, John. (1949). Selected writings. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy.
* Museum of Modern Art. (1936). John Marin; watercolors, oil paintings, etchings. New York: author.
* Reich, S. (1969). John Marin drawings, 1886-1951. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
* Reich, S. (1970). John Marin: a stylistic analysis and catalogue raisonné. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
* Wright, F.S. (1955). John Marin memorial exhibition. Los Angeles: UCLA Art Galleries.

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