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The Arts Voyager, 1-8: John Marin at the Amon Carter
'Nature's laws of motion have to be obeyed'

John Marin (1870-1953). "Top of Radio City, New York City," 1937. Watercolor on paper. John Marin. ©Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Private collection, Seattle.

By Paul Ben-Itzak

FORT WORTH -- With "John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury," the Amon Carter Museum has once again outclassed Gotham in curating and celebrating an artist at the nucleus of the New York modern art movement of the last century. Like his New York contemporary Stuart Davis, the New York modern figure most prized by the Amon Carter, Marin was an abstract artist firmly anchored in the concrete world which inspired his tableaux and gave him matter to re-arrange, whether the natural and nautical world of Cape Split, Maine, at the heart of this exhibition, which focuses on the last 20 years of his life (1933 to 1953) when he summered there, or the geometrical muse of the big city, seen here in Marin's riffs on subjects like the Brooklyn Bridge and Radio City Music Hall. "To pile these great houses one upon another with paint," Marin wrote to Alfred Stieglitz, "as they do pile themselves up there so beautiful, so fantastic -- at times one is afraid to look at them but feels like running away." As for the source he found in nature, Marin advised, "I would say (if I were asked) -- to a person who thinks he wishes to paint -- or to do anything for that matter -- go look at a bird's flight -- the man's walk -- the sea's movement. They have a way -- to keep their motion -- nature's laws of motion have to be obeyed." In later life, Martin even began making his own frames, commenting once, "The picture should be so painted that all the weight should be released at the boundaries of he picture." John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury, co-organized by the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. closes today.


John Marin (1870-1953). "Composition, Cape Split, Maine, No. 2," 1933. Oil on canvas. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 1969.9.


John Marin (1870-1953). "Movement: Grey and Blue," 1952. Oil on canvas. ©Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Private collection.


John Marin (1870-1953). "Tunk Mountains, Maine," 1948. Oil on canvas. ©Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Collection of Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge.


John Marin (1870-1953). "Movement in Greys and Yellows," 1946. Oil on canvas. ©Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Private collection.


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