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Details & Cataloguing

American Art

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New York

Marsden Hartley
1877 - 1943
LANDSCAPE, NEW MEXICO
signed Marsden Hartley (lower center)
oil on canvas
25 3/4 by 35 1/2 inches
(65.4 by 90.2 cm)
Painted in 1923. 
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Provenance

Clifton Newell (the artist's nephew), Lakewood, Ohio and New York, circa 1924 
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 1930 (sold: Christie's, New York, May 24, 2007, lot 138, illustrated)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale

Exhibited

Cleveland, Ohio, The Cleveland Museum of Art, An Exhibition of American Paintings from 1860 Until Today at The Cleveland Museum of Art, June-October 1937, no. 81, p. 25
Saginaw, Michigan, The Saginaw Museum, An Exhibition of American Paintings From Colonial Times Until Today, January-February 1948, no. 24, p. 14, illustrated pl. XV
New York, Babcock Galleries, GIANTS: American Modern Masters, October-December 2010, no. 16
New York, Driscoll Babcock Galleries, This Is How We Do It, September-December 2012

Literature

"Accessions - Gifts and Purchases," The Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, vol. 18, February 1931, p. 39
H.S. Francis, "The Dorothy Burnham Everett Memorial Collection," The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, vol. 25, June 1938, p. 124
The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art Handbook, Cleveland, Ohio, 1958, no. 553; 1966, p. 193; 1969, p. 193; 1978, p. 239
Alan Chong, European & American Painting in The Cleveland Museum of Art: A Summary Catalogue, Cleveland, Ohio, 1993, p. 100, illustrated 
Garnett McCoy and Marsden Hartley, "South of the Border with Marsden Hartley: Letters to Edith Halpert," Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 37, no. 1/2, 1997, pp. 11-19

Catalogue Note

“I did the best things of New Mexico when I was in Berlin…Landscape, New Mexico…being one of the best.”[1]

Here, in an important letter to Edith Gregor Halpert, Marsden Hartley acknowledges the stature of Landscape, New Mexico: one of the largest, most beautiful and best preserved of his important New Mexico Recollections paintings.  The New Mexico Recollections series was Hartley’s first important post World War I body of work, numbering about two dozen, which signaled his artistic and spiritual evolution towards American subject matter.

Painted in Berlin during 1923 and 1924, these works reference the profound artistic and emotional impact of his previous experience with the American Southwest just few years prior.  Writing to Alfred Stieglitz, Hartley described New Mexico as “the perfect place to regain one’s body and soul.”[2] While Hartley created numerous paintings during his time in the Southwest, none rises to the emotional and artistic level of the best Recollections paintings.  Landscape, New Mexico embodies Hartley’s potent and poignant remembrances of the racing clouds, damp air and electric atmosphere that followed a sudden rain. Jeanne Hokin writes of the Recollections paintings, noting that, “in contradistinction to the earlier New Mexico works executed either in situ or while in New York, these paintings exude a brute force and dramatic vigor heretofore not encountered in Hartley’s artistic vocabulary.”[3]

Landscape, New Mexico, a prime painting in the Recollections series, embodies Hartley’s profound respect for and thorough embrace of a splendid and compelling American, Southwestern and New Mexico landscape, with all its connotations of visual and physical energy, history, culture and art appealing to the artist’s personal psychic power.  Here, Hartley has cogently portrayed the “spirit” he felt in and from the New Mexico landscape: the tactile visceral impact of its size, color, light, changing weather conditions, changing hour, and dramatic shifts of perspective. 

This is a landscape about space—the American sense of space. It is a landscape about energy, force, and power—and how Hartley found in that landscape a certain definition of self–a definition that would lead to additional series of paintings based on American subject matter, including his Dogtown and Mt. Katahdin paintings.  Hartley has always been recognized as one of America’s greatest twentieth century artists and in this instance he can well be taken for his word when he wrote of. Landscape, New Mexico as “…one of the best."

[1] G. McCoy, “South of the Border with Marsden Hartley: Letters to Edith Halpert, 1931-1933” Archives of American Art Journal 37, no. 1/2 (1997), pp. 11-19.
[2] J. Hokin, Pinnacles and Pyramids: The Art of Marsden Hartley, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1993, p. 39.
[3] Pinnacles and Pyramids: The Art of Marsden Hartley, p. 48.

American Art

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New York