RADICAL MODERNIST ART FROM 1900-THE 1940’S WHICH WAS INFLUENCED BY EUROPEAN ART FORMS LIKE FAUVISM, CUBISM AND POST IMPRESSIONISM: THIS IN TURN LED TO SYMBOLISM AND EXPRESSIONISM. AN APPRECIATION OF MAURICE PRENDERGAST (1859-1924) , ALFRED MAURER (1868-1932) AND MARSDEN HARTLEY (1877-1943) PART 1.

Self-Portrait-1896-1897

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In this posting I am going to be looking at 3 artists who were all different in their approach to Art. Hartley , influenced by Cubism and Expressionism while Maurer reflects similar work by Picasso in his later period particularly paintings of Elongated women, this also reminds me of Modiglani who also painted these type of pictures.

American art starts by Commenting on Hartley’s a Nice time which he painted in 1916.

” In Paris he encountered Cubism and in Berlin Expressionism in the more liberal society of the German Capital. He was able to express his Homosexuality”. [1].

Hartley who was Gay would meet up with Charles Demuth the precisionist painter I so admired who was also gay.

”  A nice time makes reference to his European Odyssey adopting both the fragmentation and the use of words Bon Jour typical of Parisien Cubism”.[2].

Moving next onto Alfred Maurer , the Post Impressionist Painter who very much echoed the work of Manet , Callebotte , Sisley and others with his depiction of Leisure and everyday activities.

” In Paris he (Maurer) produced many works depicting scenes of everyday life  including Caramel. here Maurer depicts a crowd of Men, women and children enjoying a leisurely day out and taking advantage of the new Urban entertainment’s”.[3].

” By the sea Prendergast has been associated with the Ashcan School (Robert Henri group of realists) , however his painterly decorative canvasses stand as part of Fauvism (CF Cezanne and Matisse)”. [4].

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Maurice_Prendergast_(1858-1924)_-_Sunny_Day_at_the_Beach_(Unknown)

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American art explains how Prendergast was influenced by both the Impressionism of Monet , Manet , And Sisley. He was also influenced by Post impressionist work of Van Gogh , Seurat and Vlaminck.

” Prendergast was much influenced by the works he saw in Paris during his 3 year stay in the City during the early 1890’s in particular his many Beach scenes recall similar works produced by French Impressionists such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas”. [5].

” However it was the late work of the Fauve painters and in particular Matisse that left the biggest mark on Prendergast. the Work (By the sea) adopts a high viewpoint overlooking the bay and is executed in bright colours with a loose sketchy finish. It is highly reminiscent of Matisse’s view of the Mediterranean coast”. [6].

Matthew Baigell in his  Concise History of American Painting and sculpture  considers the importance of Prendergast as a Post Impressionist/Fauve painter.

” Prendergast was also receptive to various modernist currents when he lived in Paris from 1891-1895. Prendergast was especially impressed by whistler and French Nabi artists Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard”. [7].

” In later years Prendergast rarely ventured beyond the formal and thematic range of the Nabis although he occasionally experimented with colours indicating awareness of Cezanne and the Fauvists”. [8].

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Prendergast’s bathers is very reminiscent of both Courbet’s and Cezanne’s paintings of the same scene.

Baigell  now comes to discuss the painting characteristics of Alfred Maurer.

” Unlike Prendergast whose painting style developed logically over the years Alfred Maurer abruptly changed the character of his art between 1905-1907. One of many Americans living abroad at the turn of the century Maurer was initially influenced by William Merrit Chase and John Singer Sargent as well as by Hals and Velasquez”.[9]

” Unlike other Americans who taught themselves Modern art by imitating the impressionists and post Impressionists Maurer began painting Fauve landscapes almost immediately”.[10].

Baigell  describes how Maurer was impressed by the bright colours and was one of the first American painters to use the Fauvist style of painting.

” He was perhaps the first American to work in the latest style of the time probably influenced by the Exhibition of fauvist painting at the famous autumn salon of 1905 or by the Cezanne retrospective in 1907″. [11].

” After his return from the United States in 1914 Maurer explored increasingly non-objective modes of composition and even allowed a Cubist control to quiet the paroxysms of his earlier work”. [12].

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4a Alfred Henry Maurer (American painter, 1868-1932) Woman With a Pink Bow

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Baigell shows how Maurer unlike other Modernists insisted on painting Cubist and Fauvist works although if you look at one of the images Maurer was experimenting with Colour.

” During the 1920’s when many artists accommodated their Modernism to a revived realism Maurer continued to paint both Fauvist and Cubist interior scenes”. [13].

Baigell now comes to discuss the importance of Marsden Hartley who of the three is my favourite artist. He was a Modernist in the true sense of the word.

” Unlike Maurer and Max weber (  European artist recently emigrated to the USA to escape Fascism in Germany) Marsden Hartley discovered the new art  in the United states -at the Stieglitz’s gallery before going abroad to Paris in 1912″.[14].

” The moodiest of the Modernists he gravitated from the orbit of albert Pinkham Ryder whose art he discovered in New York City in 1909, to the circle of Kandinsky and Blaue Rider artists (Klee Marc) in Munich which he first visited in 1913″.[15].

Hartley was the artist who was closer to abstraction with his sharp Cubist and Kandinsky like paintings full of colour and interesting reflections which reminded you of Cubism and abstract art.

” And like other Modernists and realists he sought out the inner being and meaning in all things at the same time that he wanted to know and feel his responses to them”. [16].

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Hartley who was gay also painted portraits of a Homoerotic variety to display in some way his sexuality.

” The essential Hartley emerged however only in the 1930’s when he decided to become a painter of New England scenes, a heavy handed depressing expressionism informed his work after this time. His intensely  coloured , generally unmodeled  forms usually profiled or placed frontally and accented by dark outlines  and primitive directness of feeling”. [17].

Ann Lee Morgan now comes to describe the art of Maurice Prendergast the post impressionist who I have discussed earlier.

” The First American to formulate a style based upon European post Impressionism. he worked in a decorative , patterned manner well suited to the emotional tenor of his characteristically festive subjects”. [18].

” During a visit to Paris in 1907 he was impressed b y Cezanne’s innovations. Other important sources of his mature style include the work of Pierre Chavannes ,Georges Seurat ,Paul Signac and Matisse”. [19].

This concludes my first part of my excursion into the Post Impressionist art of Maurice Prendergast , The Cubist /Fauvist style of Alfred Maurer and the Abstraction of Marsden Hartley. In Part 2 I will further investigate their major contributions to Modernism.

FOOTNOTES

  1. AMERICAN ART FLAME PUBLISHING PG.30
  2. DITTO.PG.30
  3. DITTO.PG.104
  4. DITTO.PG.236
  5. DITTO.PG.236
  6. DITTO.PG.236
  7. A CONCISE HISTORY PF AMERICAN PAINTING AND SCULPTURE .MATTHEW BAIGELL.PG.215
  8. DITTO.PG.215
  9. DITTO.PG.216
  10. DITTO.PG.217
  11. DITTO.PG.217
  12. DITTO.PG.217-8
  13. DITTO.PG.218
  14. DITTO.PG.222
  15. DITTO.PG.222
  16. DITTO.PG.222
  17. DITTO.PG.222
  18. THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ART AND ARTISTS .ANN LEE MORGAN.PG.393
  19. DITTO.PG.393

 

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