On View Image
mountain landscape
Paper Mountains: Marsden Hartley's Lofty Landscapes
March 4, 2021 - May 16, 2021

I am utterly in the world of nature here and it has saved my life—and my love for mountains never diminishes. —Marsden Hartley to Gertrude Stein, Partenkirchen, Bavaria, October 30, 1933 

Throughout his career, Marsden Hartley (American, 1877-1943) continuously formed and re-evaluated his artistic identity. During moments when he was questioning what it meant to produce art that was distinctly “American,” he frequently sought inspiration from the mountains. This exhibition presents images of mountains that Hartley created in New Mexico, France, Germany, and New England over twenty years, and it examines how the peaks in these different locations shaped his ideas about the United States and American art. Following his first extended stay in Europe, Hartley went to New Mexico to make new work drawn from first-hand contact with the landscape. The pastel sketches he made in the desert frequently depict the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo range. Hartley took up the subject of mountains again during visits to France and Germany in the mid-1920s and mid-1930s, times when he was searching for a new style for his work. Toward the end of his life, Hartley returned to his birthplace of Maine and became engrossed with depicting Mount Katahdin, which he viewed as a symbol of the state’s ruggedness. The subject of mountains also allowed Hartley to experiment with a range of artistic media and techniques. He often sketched in the field before starting a painting in his studio, and the different media he used while outdoors—pastel, ink, and lithography crayon—inspired him to capture specific aspects of the mountains he represented. Grouping Hartley’s images of the same mountain rendered in different materials demonstrates how the choice of medium impacts his work.

Image: Marsden Hartley (1877-1943 ), Landscape, Vence, 1925-1926. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 31 7/8 in. Bequest of Hudson D. Walker from the Ione and Hudson D. Walker Collection. 1978.21.256