John Marin

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John Marin
File:John Marin by Alfred Stieglitz, 1922.jpg
John Marin in 1922
Born (1870-12-23)December 23, 1870
Rutherford, New Jersey
Died October 1, 1953(1953-10-01) (aged 82)
Addison, Maine
Nationality American
Education Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Known for Modern art

John Marin (December 23, 1870 – October 2, 1953) was an early American modernist artist. He is known for his abstract landscapes and watercolors.


Marin was born in Rutherford, New Jersey.[1] His mother died nine days after his birth, and he was raised by two aunts in Weehawken, New Jersey.[2] He attended the Stevens Institute of Technology for a year, and tried unsuccessfully to become an architect.[2]

Young American Artists of the Modern School, L. to R. Jo Davidson, Edward Steichen, Arthur B. Carles, John Marin; back: Marsden Hartley, Laurence Fellows, c. 1911, Bates College Museum of Art
Group of artists in 1912, L to R : Paul Haviland, Abraham Walkowitz, Katharine N. Rhoades, Stieglitz's wife Emily, Agnes Ernst (Mrs. Eugene Meyer), Alfred Stieglitz, J.B. Kerfoot, John Marin

From 1899 to 1901, Marin attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In Philadelphia he studied with Thomas Pollock Anshutz and William Merritt Chase. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York.[3] In 1905, like many American artists Marin went to Europe, initially to Paris.[4] He exhibited his work in the Salon, where he also got his first exposure to modern art.[3] He traveled through Europe for six years, and painted in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Italy. In Europe, he mastered a type of watercolor where he achieved an abstract ambience, almost a pure abstraction with color that ranges from transparency to translucency, accompanied by strong opacities, and linear elements, always with a sense of freedom, which became one of his trademarks.

In 1909, Marin held his first one-man exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz's 291 gallery in New York City. He had been introduced to Stieglitz by the photographer Edward Steichen, whom Marin in turn had met through the painter Arthur B. Carles. Marin's association with Stieglitz would last nearly forty years, and Stieglitz's philosophical and financial support would prove essential.[5] From 1909 until his death in 1946, Stieglitz showed Marin's work almost every year in one of his galleries.[6] Marin also participated in the landmark 1913 Armory Show.[3]

Marin spent his first summer in Maine in 1914 and almost immediately the rocky coast there became one of his favorite subjects. Over the rest of his life, Marin became intimately familiar with the many moods of the sea and sky in Maine.[6] "In painting water make the hand move the way the water moves," Marin wrote in a 1933 letter to an admirer of his technique.[7]

Cover of 291, No 4 1915

Marin had a retrospective show in 1936 at the Museum of Modern Art. Late in life Marin achieved tremendous prestige as an American painter, an elder statesman of American art. In 1950, he was honored by the University of Maine and Yale University with honorary degrees of Doctor of Fine Arts.

Marin was a resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey in his last years, and also maintained a summer home in Addison, Maine, where he died in 1953.[8] He was interred at Fairview Cemetery (Fairview, New Jersey).


John Marin was among the first American artists to make abstract paintings.[9] Marin is often credited with influencing the Abstract Expressionists. His treatment of paint—handling oils almost like watercolors—his forays into abstraction, and his use of evocative stretches of bare canvas caught the eye of younger painters.[10] His experience with architecture might have contributed to the role played by architectural themes in his paintings and watercolors.

Marin's paintings are represented in several important permanent collections and museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art and The Phillips Collection, both in Washington, D.C., the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and many others. The White House acquired his 1952 painting "The Circus No. 1" in 2007, and it is now displayed in the Green Room.


  1. Johnson, Ken (December 25, 1998), "Art Review: A Restless Explorer of Early Abstraction", The New York Times, retrieved December 27, 2007<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Out of the Dark Room", Time, March 16, 1962, retrieved June 13, 2007<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Roberts, Norma J., ed. (1988), The American Collections, Columbus Museum of Art, p. 84, ISBN 0-8109-1811-0<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  4. Esplund, Lance (February 5, 2011), "Of Celestial Beings, Sly Foxes and Weehawken", The Wall Street Journal<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  5. John Marin (1870-1953), Hollis Taggart Galleries, 2007<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Exclusive Representative of the Estate of John Marin, Meredith Ward Fine Art<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  7. Rosenberg, Karen (December 18, 2008), "John Marin: The Late Oils", The New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  8. "John Marin is Dead; Water-colorist, 80; Artist Considered by Many as 'America's No. 1 Master' Succumbs in Maine Home", The New York Times, October 2, 1953, retrieved March 22, 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  9. Smith, Roberta (February 17, 2011), "John Marin: 'The Weehawken Sequence'", The New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  10. Schwendener, Martha (October 26, 2006), "Art in Review: John Marin", The New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

Further reading

  • Adelson, Warren; Agee, William C. (2008), Marin: The Late Oils, New York: Adelson Galleries., ISBN 0-9815801-1-4<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Balken, Debra Bricker (2011), John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-14993-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Fine, Ruth (1990), John Marin, Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Fine, Ruth (2003), The John Marin Collection at the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville: Colby College Museum of Art, ISBN 0-9728484-0-1<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Gray, Cleve, ed. (1970), John Marin by John Marin, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Harnsberger, R. Scott (2002), Four Artists of the Stieglitz Circle: A Sourcebook on Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Max Weber, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-31488-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Kertess, Klaus (1987), Marin in Oil, Southampton, NY: Parrish Art Museum<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Marin, John (1949), Selected Writings, New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Museum of Modern Art (1936), John Marin: Watercolors, Oil Paintings, Etchings, New York: Arno Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Reich, Sheldon (1970), John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, ISBN 9780816502660<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Teachout, Terry (August 5, 2011). "How a Great American Painter Vanished From the Critical Scope". Wall Street Journal. New York, NY, USA: News Corporation. 258 (30). ISSN 0099-9660. OCLC 4299067. Retrieved August 14, 2011. John Marin was once expected to stand among the greatest American painters of the 20th century. |section= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Tedeschi, Martha; Dahm, Kristi; Fine, Ruth (2011), John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism, Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, ISBN 0-300-16637-0<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts (1969), Reich, Sheldon (ed.), John Marin Drawings, 1886-1951, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Wright, Frederick Stallknecht (1955), John Marin Memorial Exhibition, Los Angeles: UCLA Art Galleries<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  • Young, John Sacret (2006), John Marin: The Edge of Abstraction, New York: Meredith Ward Fine Art<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

External links