Arkansas Arts Center acquires drawings and watercolors by Stieglitz circle artist John Marin

. February 21, 2014

The Arkansas Arts Center announce it has received a spectacular gift from Norma B. Marin of 290 watercolors and drawings by the great American modern artist John Marin (1870 – 1953).

Marin is best known for his luminous watercolors of urban structures, landscapes, and seascapes. Norma Marin, who administers the artist’s estate, is the widow of John Marin, Jr., the artist’s son. This gift, together with several works by the artist already in the collection, establishes the Arkansas Arts Center as the second largest repository of works by John Marin in the world. The Arts Center’s collection is surpassed only by that of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

This stunning gift ranges across Marin’s career, including every major period and most major subjects of his work. The earliest drawings in the collection are architectural renderings and drawings of the artist’s native New Jersey and of Philadelphia, where he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The collection then follows Marin through his years in Paris just after the turn of the century and his return to America as a modernist. The artist’s best known subjects from the heart of his career–depictions of Maine and of New York skyscrapers and bridges–are beautifully explored. More unusual subjects for Marin, such as portraits, nudes, zoo animals, horses, and scenes of the circus, are unusually well represented.

Marin stands as one of the leading figures of American modernism in the first half of the twentieth century. He was part of the elite group of American avant-garde artists known as “the Stieglitz circle” because they were promoted by the famous photographer and advocate of modern art, Alfred Stieglitz. Between 1909 and 1946, Stieglitz showed Marin’s art regularly in his New York City galleries: The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (known as 291), the space known as “The Room” at the Anderson Galleries, The Intimate Gallery, and American Place. Marin was therefore one of the groundbreaking figures who established the United States as a center for modern art. The artist’s acclaim as a modernist began with his first show at 291, in 1909, and continued for the remainder of his life. In 1948, Look magazine held a survey in which Marin was voted the number one painter in the United States. Marin’s work continues to be celebrated in publications and exhibitions around the United States.

The Arkansas Arts Center is now planning a major exhibition with the proposed title John Marin (1870-1953): Modernist at Work. It will feature many of the drawings and watercolors in the gift. This exhibition, tentatively scheduled for 2016, will follow the artist’s entire creative career and examine many of the main topics he depicted. It will also examine some of the more unusual topics that are rarely seen elsewhere. For instance, there is a charming series of drawings of bears. The drawings and watercolors on view will illuminate the artist’s development and his working methods. This exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue authored by Ann Prentice Wagner.

Category: Fine Art News

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