Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ever go to a museum show for an artist that you've never really heard of or known about and then be knocked out of your socks? I had that distinct pleasure last week at the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) for their wonderful exhibit of watercolors and oils by John Marin who shuffled off his mortal coil in 1953 at his home in Cape Split, Maine. Although his work was championed by the likes of Stieglitz and a retrospective of his work was in New York in the 30s, he was never really lauded as the artist that he was. Marin was a summer resident of Maine starting in 1914 and his sea paintings show his love of the land here.
PMA chose one of his most "main stream" images for all their PR and marketing. Some of the work exhibited had such raw energy and verve that is was palpable. Although he used mostly water color and oils, one could see that he was devoted to mark-making. On one of the explanatory cards posted in the exhibit, it quoted him as saying that he was using a syringe for painting lines as that was so much better than a brush. I agree with him as a brush can only hold so much paint
I wonder how he would have reacted to the digital tools that artists use today. My guess is that he would have at least experimented with them, if not embraced them.