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The Art of Marsden Hartley

Marsden Hartley's Mount Katahdin, Autumn #2

Marsden Hartley's Mount Katahdin, Autumn #2

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Even among the greatest American artists, Marsden Hartley holds a special place. Influences of the groundbreaking American Modernist include Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse. But his greatest influence was the special place where he was born and grew up – and to which he returned permanently later in life to become, in his own words, The Painter of Maine.

Born in Lewiston, Maine in 1877, Marsden Hartley displayed a rare artistic talent and a powerful intellectual and spiritual curiosity. While attending the National Academy of Design in New York, he was drawn to the transcendental works of Thoreau and Emerson, and the self-realized poetry of Walt Whitman.

A merging of the artistic and the spiritual would infuse his work – from Paris and Berlin to New Mexico and California. And, in his ultimate homecoming, Maine where Mount Katahdin would have a special pull on Hartley, reflected in multiple paintings of the iconic landmark. Maine’s visceral rocky coast and mystical islands were favorite subjects as well.

Both seasoned Hartley fans and new discoverers of this great American artist and Maine original can celebrate his work and life at multiple Maine museums. Among them:

  • Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville
  • University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor
  • Lewiston Public Library
  • Portland Museum of Art

For an artful and transcendental day trip, consider exploring any of the fascinating places he painted:

  • Penobscot Bay
  • Vinalhaven and Hurricane Island
  • Georgetown and Fox Island
  • The Schoodic Peninsula
  • The Maine woods
  • Camden Hills from Baker’s Island
  • Lovell and Kezar Lake
  • Robin Hood Cove
  • Madawaska
  • And, of course, the place that called his soul like no other – Mount Katahdin.

Marsden Hartley’s Maine, an exhibition of approximately 90 paintings and drawings, will be on display at The Met Breuer in New York, one of the three locations of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from March 15 to June 18, 2017. It will also be on view at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine from July 8 to November 12, 2017.

If you're inspired by Marsden Hartley's work, why not visit the places that inspired him? Here are six Marsden Hartley inspired trip ideas.