The Red Sun, Brooklyn Bridge

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John Marin
American, 1870-1953

The Red Sun, Brooklyn Bridge, 1922

Watercolor with opaque watercolor, scraping, and wiping, and fabricated charcoal with stumping, on thick, rough-textured, ivory wove paper (all edges trimmed)
542 x 665 mm
1°: none
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.561R

© 2016 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This celebrated image of the Brooklyn Bridge is probably Marin’s first full-scale realization of this iconic subject in watercolor. Made from a vantage point on the bridge itself, this work highlights the strong diagonal lines of the suspension cables, through which we see an intense, vibrating red sun. As the artist explained, he endeavored to paint pictures that would recapture the emotional experience of what he called the city’s “pull forces.” Here he did this through a kinetic interplay of line and color, using complementary color relationships and an extraordinary range of unorthodox methods for applying paint—such as the blue dots at right, which were stamped directly from the tube—to keep the eye in perpetual motion.

— Exhibition label, John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism, January 19-April 17, 2011, Galleries 124-127.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Montross Gallery, "John Marin," February 16-March 8, 1924, cat. 53, as On The Bridge.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "The SIxth International Watercolor Exhibition," May 3-30, 1926, cat. 165.

New York, An American Place, "25 Years of John Marin, 1908-1932," October 16-November 27, 1933, cat. 16.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, "John Marin," 1936, cat. 46.

New York, An American Place, group show, October 1940, cat. 2.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, "Alfred Stieglitz: His Collection," 1947, no. cat. (47.223).

The Art Institute of Chicago, "Alfred Stieglitz, His Photographs and His Collection," February 2–February 29, 1948, no. cat.

Los Angeles, University of Callifornia, Los Angeles Art Galleries, "John Marin: Memorial Exhibition," 1955-1956, cat. 19 (ill.); traveled.

London, Arts Council of Greeat Britain, "John Marin," September 22-October 20, 1956, cat. 49.

Washington D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, "John Marin: In Retrospect," March 2-April 15, 1962, cat. 48; traveled to the Currior Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, May 9-June 24, 1962.

Tucson, Ariz., University of Arizona, Art Gallery, "John Marin, 1870-1953," February 9-March 10, 1963, cat.30.

Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art, "Selections and Transformations: The Art of John Marin," January 28-April 15, 1990.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism," January 19-April 17, 2011, pp. 49, 51, 53-54, 56, 122-124, 148, figures 38 & 40, plate 52, catalogue by Martha Tedeschi; traveled to the High Museum, Atlanta, June 26-September 11, 2011.

Publication History

Art News Annual XX (1950), p. 20 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly XLV (September 15, 1951), p. 47 (ill.).

Art Digest XXIX (March 15, 1955), p. 7 (ill.).

Sheldon Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné II (Tucson, Ariz., 1970), p. 514, no. 22.109 (ill.).

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., American Master Drawings and Watercolors: A History of Works on Paper from Colonial Times to the Present (New York, 1976), p. 306, fig. 266.

Judith A. Barter, Sarah E. Kelly, Denise Mahoney, Ellen E. Roberts, and Brandon K. Ruud, American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 107-9, cat. 37 (color ill.).

John B. Reinhardt, "Art Beat: John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism," Chicago Critic (blog), March 13, 2011, accessed May 2, 2011, (repro).

Hedy Weiss, "John Marin —Watercolors a vivid world portrait at Art Institute of Chicago" Chicago SunTimes (April 28, 2011), accessed May 2, 2011, (repro).

Ownership History

Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), New York; Stieglitz Estate (Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), executor); given to the Art Institute, 1949.