MARIN John
( 1870-1953). American painter and printmaker; born in Rutherford, New Jersey. He began painting when he was 18, but worked for several years as an architectural draughtsman before he took up art seriously. Inevitably the name of John Marin is linked to the vanguard in American painting that developed once Alfred Stieglitz had established his '291' gallery in New York in 1907. Also associated with this project were such rebels and forerunners as Marsden Hartley, Max Weber and Alfred Maurer, who likewise broke with the academic and sought new freedom. After some uncertainty, Marin had become an apprentice architect and then, in the mid-90s, had opened his own office. In 1899, relinquishing that career, he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Here he profited from the teaching of Thomas P. Anschutz and Henry Breckenridge before shifting to the Art Students' League in New York and then to France, the land of his paternal ancestors. After some study in various Parisian ateliers he applied himself to the craft of etching, which he learned largely by consulting the prints of Rembrandt and Whistler, whose stroke and shading appealed to his nature. He exhibited ten etchings in the Salon d'Automne of 1910. Then, after nearly six years of residence in France, he returned to the United States, exhibiting annually at '291' and participating, in 1913, in the New York Armory Show, which included such other innovators as Arthur Dove, Hartley and Weber. In 1936 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized an important retrospective of his work, and in 1950 the Venice Biennale devoted two of its rooms to a fairly comprehensive showing of it. Marin's painting reveals a play of colours not dissimilar to that of the Fauves, though actually their work had touched him but little. Majestic and violent spectacles kindled him, and he resorted for motifs to the lines and volumes of skyscrapers and bridges, and the more tumultuous aspects of sea and mountain. Great magnitude, in short, could compel him, though he strove endlessly for force and high expression, as well as for intensity of colour, which he would heighten by outbursts of lyricism sometimes almost ecstatic. He concerned himself somewhat less with the resolution of more strictly plastic problems, his object being to liberate the emotions ne experienced before Nature and his other motifs. Yet, whatever his propensity for idealization, he never narrowed himself to a literal depiction of what gripped him. He endeavoured rather to transpose all such matter into some more tuneful substance, scoring it meanwhile with stenographic notations which he did not hesitate to push to the very limit of abstraction.
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