Lot 12
  • 12

JOHN MARIN | Movement: Racing Sea

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • John Marin
  • Movement: Racing Sea
  • signed Marin and dated 47 (lower right); also dated again and inscribed No-5 (on the reverse)
  • oil on canvas
  • 22 by 28 inches
  • (55.9 by 71.1 cm)


The artist
Estate of the above
Richard York Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2000


New York, An American Place, John Marin's New Paintings in Oil and Watercolor, December 1947-January 1948, no. 5, n.p.
Utica, New York, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, John Marin, Watercolors, Oils, Prints and Drawings, December 1951, no. 41, n.p.
Tucson, Arizona, University of Arizona, John Marin 1870-1953, February-March 1963, no. 98, n.p.
New York, Kennedy Galleries, John Marin and the Sea, October-November 1982, no. 66, n.p., illustrated
Portland, Maine, Portland Museum of Art, John Marin in Maine, May-September 1985, no. 74, n.p.
New York, Kennedy Galleries, John Marin: Paintings and Watercolors 1940 to 1953, November 1989, no. 21, n.p., illustrated 


Sheldon Reich, John Marin: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, Tucson, Arizona, 1970, no. 47.23, p. 754, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Movement: Racing Sea was painted during the last decade of John Marin's life while he took residence in Cape Split, Maine. It is one among a series of nine oil paintings from the period, a grouping aptly titled Movements that was exhibited in a retrospective at An American Place in 1947. Marin recorded in his journals that year, “Using paint as paint is different from using paint to paint a picture. I’m calling my pictures this year ‘Movements in Paint’ and not movements of boat, sea, or sky, because in these new paintings, although I use objects, I am representing paint first of all, and not the motif primarily” (as quoted in MacKinley Helm, John Marin, Boston, Massachusetts, 1948, p. 101).

While this decade was ostensibly marked by grief, following the death of his wife and later his mentor Alfred Stieglitz, Marin approached his work with renewed enthusiasm and vigor. In the catalogue for Kennedy Galleries’ 1982 exhibition of the artist’s seascapes, which included Movement: Racing Sea, John I.H. Baur noted, “As the 1940s wore on Marin’s oils began to change—subtly at first, then more radically.” He continued, “...Marin employed his cubism with a new freedom, using it to reinforce the dynamic expressionism of the compositions. No longer do the grid lines restrain the wildness of the waves; instead they echo their action and underline their movement” (as quoted in Kennedy Galleries, John Marin and the Sea, New York, 1982, n.p.).

We see this grid line technique employed in Movement: Racing Sea. The composition is delineated by horizontal lines that establish an energetic sea and calm sky. The sky is marked by a cobalt blue border, which frames gray feathered clouds. This border defines the picture plane and is echoed along all four sides of the work. The sea and sky are suspended within this framework though not confined to the flat surface. As such, the landscape remains wildly in motion. The horizon line is marked by a thin strip of land, beneath it rolling waves in green that endure the shifting sea. These energetic brushstrokes are typical of Marin’s works from the period and the Movement series captures his mastery of color and gesture.