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 Chase 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 cubism; expressionism), and he exhibited with Klee and Kandinsky 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 Katahdin 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).

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