Tree and Sea, Maine

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John Marin
American, 1870-1953

Tree and Sea, Maine, 1919

Watercolor with charcoal and charcoal wash, on moderately thick, moderately textured, off-white wove paper (lower and right edges trimmed), in original frame
423 x 352 mm
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949.559

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

Here Marin emphasized the colors, shapes, and textures that differentiate the various pines found along the Maine coast. A particularly gnarled, distorted tree moves with the frenetic energy of a dancer, while its companions rattle and sway in the breeze. Marin combined his hieroglyphic mark making with a carefully orchestrated color palette: rays of yellow sun warm the horizon, while touches of bright red-orange lead the eye into space. Again defying tradition, he used charcoal wash to darken and muddy the red tones of the clustered trees in the middle ground. He painted over heavy charcoal lines, smearing the particles to create a dark haze. Juxtaposing complexity of line with an unusually direct application of color, the artist captured a sensation of life in motion that is joyful, almost spiritual.

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