Movement: Fifth Avenue

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John Marin
American, 1870-1953

Movement: Fifth Avenue, 1912

Watercolor with blotting and traces of scraping, and with traces of graphite, on moderately thick, moderately textured, off-white wove paper
428 x 348 mm
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.554

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

In this groundbreaking watercolor, the spire of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral appears on the left, and the Forty- Fourth Street clock is on the right. To communicate his excitement over the buildings, Marin aggressively blotted and reapplied color to build up tonal planes. Combining staccato marks to denote windows with soft, wet applications in the sky, he added long vertical stokes conveying the upward lift of the structures. Making the road in the foreground arc up as if the earth itself were heaving, he surrounded the dark blue patches and lines with slivers of bright white paper. Overhead, the pink rays of the sun, like the hands of the clock, leave the unmistakable impression of New York at midmorning.

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