Mount Katahdin, Autumn"
Marsden Hartley was a very original American artist (1877-1943). This exhibit was close to his soul, the landscapes of his native Maine. By turns, these landscapes, lyrical, bold and haunting, allowed him to express his unique intimacy with the mountains, water and rocks of Maine, through the seasons (autumn being the most vibrant and powerful).
Some of the paintings are tapestries of rich color, such as "Summer", (1908, Oil), and "Carnival of Autumn" (1908, Oil).
Some are simple and strong, painted in bold thick color such as "Mount Katahdin, Autumn (Oil) and "Smelt Brook Falls," (Oil, 1937), which has a rich glaze. "An Evening Mountainscape" perfectly captures peace and tranquility.
But Hartley went through a dark period when he was living in New York City. There, he painted the mountains of Maine from his imagination. And this series of paintings, "Paysages" (Dark Landscapes) done in 1924, are a bit scary. In depressing grays and blacks, the brooding mountains show the harsher side of nature.
Hartley was influenced by Winslow Homer and Hokusai and painted "The Wave" in several versions. I found these to be flat, static and lacking in the strong vision revealed in his mountain landscapes. Even when painting a French mountain, "Mount Sainte Victoire" (1927, Oil) he captures a happy exhuberance in bright brilliant color. Obviously, mountains were his métier. the show will remain on view at the Met Breuer through June 18, 2017.