This past weekend, Jeff and I spent a few hours at the Met Breuer to see the exhibit, Marsden Hartley’s Maine.
Marsden Hartley was a painter, poet, and essayist, born in Lewiston Maine.
His mother died when he was just 8 years old. So his father, four years later, remarried to Martha Marsden. Hartley took Marsden as his first name when he was in his twenties. His birth name being Edmund.
When Hartley was 14 years old his whole family moved to Ohio but Marsden was left in Maine to work in a shoe shop. Hartley found this part of his life to be extremely lonely. He eventually rejoined his family in Ohio and studied painting at the Cleveland School of Art.
Marsden Hartley was very inspired by the writings of American transcendentalists Henry David Thorough and Ralph Waldo Emerson. This caused Hartley to turn his painting career into a spiritual journey.
His first mature paintings were done from a farm in Lowell Maine, which caught the eye of art promoter and photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
Hartley was also inspired by European painter Cézanne and American painter Winslow Homer. Homer’s coastal paintings in particular influenced Hartley’s work.
During the regionalism movement artists believed that a “sense of rootedness” was key to their work. This is when Hartley decided he was going to be, and declared himself “the painter of Maine”
Hartley said, “to paint only Maine and put Maine really on the art map as is my right”
In addition to painting Maine landscapes, Hartley painted all things Maine, such as its lobsterman, lumber industry, waves, and churches.
Hartley gave special attention to Mt. Katahdin, wanting to make it his own as Cézanne had with Mont Sainte-Victoire.
Hartley painted Maine until his death in 1943.
Having recently moved to NYC from Maine, I had a lot of Maine pride during this exhibit and still do. During my travels and living in NYC, I have had the privilege of seeing some extraordinary art. Seeing this exhibit was so awesome and extremely motivating.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. Thanks again!