John Marin was one of America’s foremost early modernists, renowned for his images of Maine, the Atlantic coast, and New York. He grew up in New Jersey, attended Stevens Institute in Hoboken, and worked briefly as an architect. From 1899 to 1901 Marin studied in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Thomas P. Anshutz (1851-1912) and HUGH H. BRECKENRIDGE. For five years, until 1910, he traveled and studied throughout Europe, producing etchings of city views. On his return to the United States he began a long association with Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Many solo exhibitions of Marin’s work were held in New York at Stieglitz’s galleries, and in 1920 Marin was given a retrospective at Daniel Gallery, which resulted in his gaining his first important patron, Ferdinand Howald. In 1922 he was given another large exhibition, at Montross Gallery, which brought him major critical recognition. Marin was also honored with a large retrospective in 1936 at the Museum of Modern Art, a rare honor at that time for an American artist.
Marin led a somewhat peripatetic life, traveling throughout New Jersey, upstate New York, New England, and New Mexico. The drama of nature and dynamism of the city were his chief concerns throughout his career. He first became known as a master watercolorist, and although he had painted in oils in the early 1900s, it was not until the 1930s that he began to work primarily in that medium. Marin used colored planes and lines of directional force, fracturing objects to record the energy of the scene. By the mid-1920s his compositions began to push and pull apart, the painted borders shattering under the tension of the lines of force. In the 1930s Marin added the figure to his scenes, and during the last two decades of his life his work became increasingly expressionistic.
Herbert J. Seligmann, ed., Letters of John Marin (New York: Privately printed for An American Place, 1931) § Mackinley Helm, John Marin (Boston: Pellegrini & Cudahy with Institute of Contemporary Art, ), with foreword by John Marin § Dorothy Norman, ed., The Selected Writings of John Marin (New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1949) § Sheldon Reich, John Marin, A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, ), with chronology, bibliography, list of exhibitions § Cleve Gray, ed., John Marin by John Marin (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1977).