After years of travel, Marsden Hartley proclaimed himself “the Painter from Maine.” This painting of Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, belongs to a series focused on the mountain. Following a visit there in October 1939, Hartley painted multiple canvases over a three-year period. He modified his palette to suggest different seasons in each painting. In Mt. Katahdin—November Afternoon, the contrast between the blue sky, purple mountains, and auburn woods evokes an early-winter day. Hartley identified with the remote peak, seeing it as an emblem of his own lonely resilience.
Arthur Garfield Dove
American – 1934
Oil on canvas
'Arthur Dove's Tree suggests the restless energy and restorative powers of nature. Comprised of undulating, organic forms and an earthy palette of browns and tans, the painting features a large tree limb stretching across the composition and silhouetted against paler, flamelike shapes. These integrated forms suggest the strong, interconnected elements of nature. The composition's horizontality links the painting discreetly to the traditional landscape painting. Rooting his art deeply in the natural world, Dove was a pioneer in abstraction. He created his earliest abstract compositions in the 1910s, and his efforts were supported by New York-based photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. A major proponent of modernism in America, Stieglitz also promoted the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, among others.'
“Marsden Hartley’s Himmel appears like a night display of fireworks translated into paint on canvas and across the frame. The composition’s overlapping, abstract, colorful shapes are rooted in French Cubism’s motifs and palette. The concentric discs floating across the painting reveal Hartley’s knowledge of American Indian design. They also may relate to cockades that decorated the German military uniforms that Hartley saw while living in Berlin at the onset of World War I. The German words for heaven (Himmel) and hell (Hölle) frame two conical shapes that resemble Zuckertuete, colorful bags of candy given to German schoolchildren. Combining childhood themes with military references, Hartley suggests that war is a kind of game that may end in salvation or damnation.
In October 1914 the death in action of von Freyburg, with whom Hartley had developed a close relationship, inspired a new and more powerful series of paintings in which elements of German military regalia symbolized his lost friend. One of the greatest of these visual tributes, this composition is dominated by forms resembling exploding bombs or fireworks, and includes an equestrian monument to valor and the German words Himmel (Heaven) and Hölle (Hell) to allude to the dual natures of war and love.” — Nelson Atkins Museum of Art 🔸