Marsden Hartley’s Maine, Modern Art | Met Exhibitions


(din of crowd) (single piano note) RANDALL GRIFFEY: The exhibition
focuses on Marsden Hartley, one of the most important
American artists of the early 20th century, and his lifelong
artistic engagement with his home state of Maine. He’s from a little mill town
and goes off to have this worldly
and cosmopolitan life, but then returned to Maine
in the 1930s in the heyday of regionalism
in American art, the notion that great art came from the artist’s
connection to a place. But it’s not a show
about pretty landscapes. Hartley actually prided himself
on the fact that his paintings were not conventionally pretty. The early paintings of Maine
are exuberant and chromatic. But soon his image of Maine
becomes dark and moody. Hartley was gay, which played a part
in his conflicted feelings about his homeland, because
it was not as permissible to lead an out gay life
in rural Maine. And you see Hartley really
wrestling with that relationship over the course of his career. Hartley had a wonderfully rich
but complicated, and sometimes contradictory,
relationship with Maine, and I think that’s an experience that so many people
can identify with, especially if you are
from one place and you leave it, and then you try to come back. One of the key threads
in this show is what happens upon the return, and how
you make art out of that. (soft piano music)

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