JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)
JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)
JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)
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JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)
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Modern American Masterworks from the Ted Shen Collection
JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)

Lobster Boat, Cape Split, Maine

Details
JOHN MARIN (1870-1953)
Lobster Boat, Cape Split, Maine
signed and dated 'Marin 38' (lower right)
oil on canvas
22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm.)
Painted in 1938.
Provenance
Lawrence A. and Barbara Fleischman, Detroit, Michigan, by 1954.
The Manoogian Collection, Michigan, by 1969.
Mr. and Mrs. Carl D. Lobell, New York, by 1987.
Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2005.
Literature
Arts Digest, vol. 29, no. 12, March 15, 1955, p. 6, illustrated.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., The Kennedy Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 4, October 1966, p. 248, no. 232, illustrated.
S. Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Tucson, Arizona, 1970, pp. 201-02, fig. 172, illustrated; vol. II, p. 692, no. 38.19, illustrated.
Art in America, vol. 76, June 1988, pp. 56, 59, illustrated.
H. Kramer, "Salander-O'Reilly Mounts Great American Art Show," The New York Observer, December 6, 1999.
Exhibited
Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, John Marin, 1870-1953, January 3-31, 1954, n.p., no. 26.
Los Angeles, California, University of California; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; Washington, D.C., Phillips Gallery; San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art; Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art; Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Palm Beach, Florida, Society of Fine Arts; Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, John Marin Memorial Exhibition, March 1, 1955-July 29, 1956, n.p., no. 10, illustrated.
London, Arts Council Gallery, John Marin: Paintings, Water-colours, Drawings, and Etchings, September 22-October 20, 1956, no. 9.
Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, American Paintings and Drawings from Michigan Collections, April 10-May 6, 1962, p. 9, no. 124.
Tuscon, Arizona, The University of Arizona Art Gallery, American Painting, 1765-1963: Selections from the Lawrence A. and Barbara Fleischman Collection of American Art, February 1-March 29, 1964, pp. 91, 94, no. 71, illustrated.
Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, Selections from the Collections of the Friends of Modern Art, 1969.
Southampton, New York, The Parrish Art Museum; West Palm Beach, Florida, The Norton Gallery and School of Art; Savannah, Georgia, The Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences; University Park, Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University, Museum of Art; Buffalo, New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Marin in Oil, July 18, 1987-September 4, 1988, pp. 51, 93, 122, no. 28, cover illustration.
New York, Salander O'Reilly Galleries, A Gallery's Perspective: Modernist Painting and Sculpture in America: The Past 25 Years at Salander-O'Reilly, November 4-December 4, 1999.
Portland, Maine, Portland Museum of Art; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum of Art; Andover, Massachusetts, Phillips Academy, Addison Gallery of American Art, John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury, June 23, 2011-April 1, 2012, pp. 28, 30, no. 28, pl. 10, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

In 1948, renowned modern art critic Clement Greenberg declared, “If it is not beyond doubt that [John] Marin is the greatest living American painter, he certainly has to be taken into account when we ask who is.” (Art and Culture: Critical Essays, Boston, Massachusetts, 1961, p. 181) That February, Look magazine surveyed 68 curators, critics and museum directors to select the ten best painters in America; John Marin was again declared “Artist No. 1.” Painted with a bravura of technique and form, Lobster Boat, Cape Split, Maine demonstrates the exquisite balance between elements of abstraction and realism that earned Marin distinction as one of the most venerated American artists of the twentieth century.

Beginning in the summer of 1914, Marin escaped the bustle of New York City every summer to spend the warmer months painting the rocky shoreline of Maine. For the first few summers, he stayed in the Small Point Harbor area, where he purchased "Marin Island." Despite being virtually uninhabitable due to lack of a fresh water resource, the island served as a retreat for the artist where he could paint and fish in a remote and primitive location. During the 1920s, the Marin family started to venture further north to Stonington, Maine, but it was not until 1933, at the suggestion of author and journalist Herbert J. Seligmann, that he spent his first summer on Cape Split in Addison. There he chose to buy the small cottage where he would continue to summer for the remainder of his career and ultimately spend the final days of his life.

It was in Addison where Marin found his mature style. In the late 1920s, the artist revisited the practice of oil painting after several years of concentrating primarily on his work in watercolor. Having gained a nuanced knowledge of both media, Marin combined the benefits of both into a distinct working style all his own. Through the next decade, as Klaus Kertess writes, “Marin would unite the medium of oil with the subject of the ocean to create deeply moving medleys of paint. The rhythmically charged flatness and openness, the willed surrender to paint’s liquidity, and the entrancement with the workings of nature so crucial to Marin become totally compatible and congruent with the movements of the ocean. Its incalculable repertoire of flux, flow, and reflectiveness moving into and out of flatness would bring Marin into full mastery of his newly favored medium…In oil, Marin immersed himself not in its ambiances but in the nature of the ocean itself.” (Marin in Oil, exhibition catalogue, Southampton, New York, 1987, p. 46)

In Lobster Boat, Cape Split, Maine, Marin particularly emphasizes the unpredictability and unruliness of the ocean’s nature. Kertess explains, “Marin’s Maine is not a hospitable bather’s resort…The Maine coast invited drama more than dalliance.” (Marin in Oil, p. 47) Indeed, in the present work from 1938, Marin utilizes forceful, expressive brushwork to create the impression of set after set of strong waves, as well as the lobster boat that dramatically intersects them and dominates the foreground. A sailboat and distant rocky shore balance out the rest of the composition. With an amalgam of thick and thin layers of dark and light hues, Marin recreates in his unique style the energy and effervescence of the sea. Lobster Boat, Cape Split, Maine demonstrates Marin at the height of his abilities—conveying his unique and highly-personalized sensibility to nature that set him apart from his contemporaries and garnered him distinction as one of America's leading Modernists.
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