RADICAL MODERNIST AMERICAN ART FROM 1900-1940’S WHICH WAS INFLUENCED BY EUROPEAN ART FORMS LIKE FAUVISM, CUBISM AND POST-IMPRESSIONISM, WHICH LED TO SYMBOLISM AND EXPRESSIONISM: AN APPRECIATION OF MAURICE PRENDERGAST ( 1859-1924) , ALFRED MAURER (1868-1932) AND MARSDEN HARTLEY (1877-1943)PART 2.

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In Part 2 of my exploration into Modernist art between 1900-1940 I will continue to explore the  artistic talents of Prendergast , Maurer and Hartley.

Ann Lee Morgan continues her appreciation of Maurice Prendergast.

” Although Prendergast worked in oil throughout his life it was his preferred medium only in later years he achieved particular distinction with luminous watercolours”.[1].

” By the late 1880’s he (Prendergast) ranked as the only significant artist in the United states working in a style based on advanced European painting , a distinction he held for nearly 20 years”. [2].

Morgan explains Prendergast’s insistence on only concentrating on his particular version of Post-Impressionism.

” Prendergast had little in common with the stylistic aims of the other Exhibitions but he shared their desire to replace Academic art with something fresher”. [3].

Morgan now considers the contribution of Alfred Maurer the fauvist and Cubist painter.

” Known primarily for semi-abstract still lives he also produced a number of figure studies”.[4].

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Morgan shows on his visits to Paris how Maurer perfected his technique.

” In Paris he perfected a fluid, dark Whisterlerian figure style seen in an arrangement, however within a few years Maurer became a follower of Cezanne and Matisse”. [5].

” By about 1905 in advance of  any other American he had adapted the bright style colours of Fauvism”. [6].

Morgan  describes how Maurer also used bright expressionist colours to aid him in his search for brighter Fauvist paintings.

” Subsequently he worked in a brushy often bright coloured expressionist style occasionally approaching complete abstraction. Around 1920 he began to add to his repertoire of Landscapes and still lives a series of long-faced large eyed Women’s heads”.[7].

” In the ensuing sophisticated still life compositions such as (still life with Doily) fragmentation and spatial compression contribute to decorative effects. During the same years he sometimes distorted his figures almost beyond recognition with shattering cubist techniques”. [8].

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Morgan now comes to consider Hartley the most revolutionary of the three artists here under  discussion.

” After painting some of the early 20th century’s most impressive abstractions in 1917(the Year of the Russian Revolution) he adopted an expressive bold and sensuous approach to Landscapes , still live and figurative subjects”.[9].

” A wanderer who never established a home , he spent most of his adult life in Europe , but in later years he became particularly identified with subjects from Maine the state of his birth”. [10].

Hartley was very interested in Poetry , particularly the poetry of Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. in fact Hartley wrote some poetry himself.

”  While learning the rudiments of his craft he discovered the writings of Transcendentalist , Philosopher and Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who ignited Romantic aspirations”.[11].

” By 1908 he had achieved a distinctive Landscape style of colours applied in minute parallel lines”. [12].

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Morgan continues to describe Hartley’s artistic development especially when he met Alfred Stieglitz who was to show some of Hartley’s work at  his 291 gallery.

” In  April 1909 Hartley met Alfred Stieglitz who almost immediately staged the young artists first New York Exhibition at his Art Gallery 291″. [13].

” At 35 Hartley at last sailed across the Atlantic, within months of his 1912 arrival in Paris he had forged a style he sometimes called Cosmic Cubism . Formally these compositions derive from the angular planes of cubism but emotionally they reflect a German point of view”. [14].

Copying the Cubist work and some Dadaists from Germany Hartley’s work is reminiscent of both Braque, Picasso and Hoch.

”  The paintings of his Paris years marked him as a sophisticated innovator whose work integrated numerous eclectic sources”. [15].

” In  the spring of 1913 he moved to Berlin where he remained for two and half years . Comfortably at home within Berlin’s Homosexual sub culture he soon produced startingly original paintings continuing to reflect German Expressionism and French Cubism”. [16].

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You can clearly see in some of these images the German Expressionist brushwork loose use of colour and paint together with fragmented sharp scissor like depictions with a definite cubist flavour.

Morgan show how Hartley spent the last years of his life.

” He (Hartley) spent the last few years with Charles Demuth (Another Gay Precisionist Painter who I have already written about) whom he had met in Europe and who joined him for a time in Bermuda. There Hartley experimented productively with approaches to representations purged of his previous emotionalism”. [17].

” This format derives from Matisse but the flattened yet heavy forms herald Hartley’s subsequent personal development. reflecting his psychological isolation his search for personal and artistic meaning and his ambition , his travels produced uneven results”. [18].

Morgan finally shows that Hartley’s Neo impressionist style is reflected in all the Landscapes he painted.

” Hartley’s neo  impressionist Landscapes from 35 years earlier  (Inland Maines Mount Katalhom)  became Hartley’s Mont Sainte Victoire a spiritual charged motif encompassing both stability and flux within the majesty of nature”. [19].

This concludes  my examination of Modernist Art , mainly reflected in Cubist , Expressionists and Post Impressionist style. There is no doubt that Marsden Hartley was the most Revolutionary in his application and study of Cubism and German Expressionism . He also used these styles as Charles Demuth did his Homo erotic displays of his Gay Sexuality.

FOOTNOTES

  1. THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN ART AND ARTISTS. ANN LEE MORGAN. PG.393
  2. DITTO.PG.393
  3. DITTO.PG.393
  4. DITTO.PG.304
  5. DITTO.PG.304
  6. DITTO.PG.304
  7. DITTO.PG.304
  8. DITTO.PG.304
  9. DITTO.PG.209
  10. DITTO.PG.209
  11. DITTO.PG.209
  12. DITTO.PG.209
  13. DITTO.PG.209
  14. DITTO.PG.209
  15. DITTO.PG.209
  16. DITTO.PG.209
  17. DITTO.PG.210
  18. DITTO.PG.210
  19. DITTO.PG.210

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