Searching for the Real
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This object is a member of the following groups (click any group name to view all objects in that group):Exhibitions: Currents/Crosscurrents
Themes: MLC Portfolio: Representing the Land
As if in anticipation of his return to his native state of Maine in 1937, Marsden Hartley wrote some five years earlier: “He who finds will to come home / will surely find old faith / made new again.”<sup>1</sup> Hartley’s relationship to Maine was that of a prodigal son, complicated by childhood memories of poverty and loss. When he finally ventured back after a nomadic life spent wandering from New York to Paris, Berlin, and Provence, among many other places, Hartley claimed that Maine above all had shaped his artistic identity: “Maine is a strong country and so being born there am able to express it in terms of itself with which I am familiar.”<sup>2</sup>
Part of Hartley’s latter-day self-fashioning “as the painter from Maine” was intended to bolster his sagging reputation as an American artist too heavily aligned with European styles of visual expression.<sup>3</sup> While he had once argued with vehemence for the cause of modern art and its emphasis on universal values, toward the end of his life Hartley’s earlier aesthetic position gave way to a more national, if not, indeed, more regional outlook. His previous dismissal of American culture and its tradition of realist painting—Hartley declared in 1921 that “Art in America is like a patent medicine, or a vacuum cleaner. It can hope for no success until ninety million people know what it is”<sup>4</sup>—turned in the 1930s into acceptance of the "quality of nativeness … coloured by heritage, birth, and environment” that determines all artistic experience.<sup>5</sup>
<i>Jotham’s Island</i>, painted soon after his return to Maine, was a work Hartley deemed “one of the best pictures I have done.”<sup>6</sup> Although the seascape was not altogether a new genre for him Hartley’s few scenes of the Nova Scotia coast in 1936 mark his first use of the marine as a subject—his native Maine served as a catalyst for a more sustained thematic treatment. Here, as in the later <i><a href=“http://accessaddison.andover.edu/Obj3118">Summer, Sea, Window, Red Curtain</a></i> (the framing of ocean and island by a window and foreground still-life arrangement was a device Hartley had tried in paintings that date from 1934 and 1935), he realized that certain expressive possibilities existed for adding to the formal language of his work. By rendering the landscape and cloud formations in <i>Jotham’s Island</i> as massive, relatively undifferentiated, abstract shapes, Hartley both updated and elaborated on the inventive thrust of his painting.
From 1937 until his death in 1943, Hartley spent approximately nine months of each year in Maine. His renewed connection with what he described as that “strong, simple, stately and perhaps brutal country,”<sup>7</sup> spawned a body of work which critics such as Elizabeth McCausland believe “freed him from the tyranny of incessantly changing styles.”<sup>8</sup> For all the unrest caused by Hartley’s itinerant life—an attribute mirrored in the overall shape and character of his output—Maine somewhat stabilized the later phase of his career. As Hartley himself affirmed: “It has been such a joy to come home to my native heath and feel so content here and now I am completely in the thing … these are my big years. … Life not only begins but doubles at 6o—and such an onrush of fresh energy surrounds me.”<sup>9</sup>
Debra Bricker Balken, <i>Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, A Selective Catalogue</i> (Andover, Massachusetts: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1996), pp. 386-87
1. Marsden Hartley, “The Return of the Native,” in <i>Collected Poems of Marsden Hartley, 1904-1943</i>, ed. Gail Scott (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1987), p. 251.
2. Marsden Hartley to Rogers Bordley, n.d. [1939J, Hartley Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
3. Marsden Hartley, “On the Subject of Nativeness—A Tribute to Maine” (1937), in <i>On Art</i>, ed. Gail R. Scott (New York: Horizon Press, 1982), p. 115.
4. Marsden Hartley, “Modern Art in America,” in <i>Adventures in the Arts</i> (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921), p. 60.
5. Hartley, “Tribute to Maine,” p. 115.
6. Hartley to Hudson Walker, 1 October 1937, Elizabeth McCausland Papers, Archives of American Art.
7. Hartley, “Tribute to Maine,” p. 113.
8. Elizabeth McCausland, <i>Marsden Hartley</i> (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1952), p. 56.
9. Hartley to Adelaide S. Kuntz, 1 November 1937, Hartley Papers.
This object was included in the following exhibitions:Terms of Criticism, Addison Gallery of American Art, 00/00/00 - 5/10/1965
Exhibition of the State of Maine, Colby College Museum of Art, 4/22/1944 - 5/26/1944
HARTLEY, The Museum of Modern Art, 10/24/1944 - 1/14/1945
Museum's Choice: Paintings by Contemporary Americans, Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, eighteenth annual exhibition, The Art Gallery of Toronto, 2/2/1945 - 2/25/1945
Marsden Hartley: Memorial Exhibition, The Arts Club of Chicago, 12/7/1945 - 12/31/1945
Hartley, Cheney, Cutler Retrospective Exhibition, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 9/9/1947 - 11/13/1947
Fogg Art Museum [museum studies class], Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, 3/29/1948 - 4/17/1948
Milestones of American Painting in Our Century, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 1/20/1949 - 12/31/1949
Loan to The Currier Gallery of Art, Currier Museum of Art, 5/2/1950 - 6/14/1950
Modern Painting, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, 4/12/1951 - 6/7/1951
Amerikanische Malerei: Werden und Gegenwart, American Federation of Arts, 9/20/1951 - 10/5/1951
Loan to Stevens Memorial Library, Stevens Memorial Library, 3/3/1953 - 6/30/1953
Exhibition of Paintings from The Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass, Western Canada Art Circuit, 11/15/1953 - 6/3/1954
American Painting 1804-1954, Ohio University College of Fine Arts, 5/1/1954 - 6/15/1954
Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Walt Kuhn and John Sloan, The Arts Club of Chicago, 5/3/1956 - 6/14/1956
Scope in Collecting [25th Anniversary Exhibition], Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/19/1956 - 12/24/1956
Abstract by Choice, The Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, 11/19/1957 - 12/31/1957
University of Kansas Museum of Art 30th Anniversary Exhibition, The University of Kansas Museum of Art, 2/22/1958 - 3/30/1958
Living with Design, Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/22/1959 - 10/23/1959
Loan to Bradford Junior College, Bradford Junior College, 3/14/1960 - 4/11/1960
Directions in 20th Century American Painting, Dallas Museum of Art, 10/7/1961 - 11/12/1961
Terms of Criticism, Addison Gallery of American Art, 7/26/1963 - 12/23/1963
Maine: 100 Artists of the 20th Century, Colby College Museum of Art, 6/25/1964 - 9/30/1964
Terms of Criticism, Addison Gallery of American Art, 7/15/1966 - 10/3/1966
Terms of Criticism, Addison Gallery of American Art, 7/18/1969 - 10/19/1969
The Works, Addison Gallery of American Art, 11/7/1969 - 2/22/1970
The Split-Up: The Beginning of a New Art in America, Addison Gallery of American Art, 3/13/1981 - 4/12/1981
New England Scenes from the Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/26/1982 - 11/28/1982
Landscapes from the Permanent Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/1/1983 - 5/1/1983
Dissent: The Issue of Modern Art in Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2/18/1986 - 4/20/1986
Faculty Choice Show: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Photographs and Sculpture from, Addison Gallery of American Art, 7/5/1988 - 7/31/1988
Point of View: Landscapes from the Addison Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/16/1992 - 12/20/1992
Masterworks from the Permanent Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/29/1993 - 1/9/1993
Masterworks from the Permanent Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/21/1994 - 4/3/1994
Presence of the Past: Decorative Arts at Phillips Academy, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/21/1995 - 3/19/1995
Andover Alumni Collectors, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/29/1995 - 7/30/1995
Masterworks from the Permanent Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/5/1995 - 12/17/1995
Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/13/1996 - 7/31/1996
Sculpture in Context, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/17/1999 - 7/31/1999
The American Land: Selections from the Addison Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/19/2001 - 4/8/2001
Place and Perceptions, Addison Gallery of American Art, 4/16/2002 - 7/31/2002
Working from Nature, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/19/2003 - 1/4/2004
Nature Study, Addison Gallery of American Art, 3/3/2006 - 4/9/2006
Mix and Match: A Conversation between Paintings and Works on Paper, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/23/2007 - 4/8/2007
Eye on the Collection: Views and Viewpoints, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/19/2008 - 3/23/2008
Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/7/2010 - 3/27/2011
Maine Moderns: The Stieglitz Circle in Seguinland, Portland Museum of Art, 6/4/2011 - 9/11/2011
Eye on the Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 1/19/2013 - 3/10/2013
Exterior Spaces, Interior Places, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/2/2014 - 1/4/2015
Heaven and Earth, Addison Gallery of American Art, 2/7/2015 - 4/5/2015
Searching for the Real, Addison Gallery of American Art, 5/30/2015 - 7/31/2015
Selections from the Permanent Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/12/2015 - 3/13/2016
Eye on the Collection, Addison Gallery of American Art, 9/1/2016 - 3/19/2017
Currents/Crosscurrents: American Art, 1850–1950, Addison Gallery of American Art, 10/16/2020 - 3/7/2021
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