Marsden Hartley's Maine

A preview of the exhibition Marsden Hartley's Maine, on view at The Met Breuer from March 15 through June 18, 2017.

Featuring Randall Griffey, Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Met

This exhibition will explore Marsden Hartley's complex, sometimes contradictory, and visually arresting relationship with his native state—from the lush Post-Impressionist inland landscapes with which he launched his career, to the later roughly rendered paintings of Maine's rugged coastal terrain, its hardy inhabitants, and the magisterial Mount Katahdin.

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Randall Griffey: The exhibition focuses on Marsden Hartley, one of the most important American artists of the early 20th century, and his lifelong artistic engagement with his home state of Maine.

He's from a little mill town and goes off to have this worldly and cosmopolitan life, but then returned to Maine in the 1930s in the heyday of regionalism in American art, the notion that great art came from an artist's connection to a place.

But it's not a show about pretty landscapes. Hartley actually prided himself on the fact that his paintings were not conventionally pretty.

The early paintings of Maine are exuberant and chromatic, but soon his image of Maine becomes dark and moody.

Hartley was gay, which played a part in his conflicted feelings about his homeland, because it was not as permissible to lead an out gay life in rural Maine. And you see Hartley really wrestling with that relationship over the course of his career.

Hartley had a wonderfully rich but complicated and sometimes contradictory relationship with Maine, and I think that's an experience that so many people can identify with—especially if you are from one place and you leave it, and then you try to come back. One of the key threads in the show is what happens upon the return, and how do you make art out of that?

Director: Christopher Noey
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Sarah Cowan
Camera: Alex Rappoport, Stephanie Wuertz
Lighting: Ned Hallick
Grip: CJ Yurnett
Production Coordinator: Lisa Rifkind
Production Assistant: Kaelan Burkett
Original Music: Austin Fisher

© 2017 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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