Marsden Hartley was born on January 4, 1877 in Lewiston, Maine.
Marsden Hartley was known for using vivid, contrasting colors, and abstract geometry in depicting his Modernist paintings of mountainous landscapes and abstracted portraits.
Though he moved several times across the United States – from Maine to Ohio in 1892 to join his family already there, on to New York City in 1898, and by 1908 he was back in Maine on an abandoned farm in Lovell – he also briefly lived in Europe in 1912, attending Gertrude Stein’s salons in Paris, meeting her circle of avante-garde writers and artists. It was in 1909 that Alfred Stieglitz gave Hartley his first solo exhibition in New York, as well as a second successful show three years later enabled him to take this trip to Europe. But Paris didn’t fulfill him. He felt that he was watching life go by. During this time, he also went to Berlin in 1913 and Munich and drew inspiration from the German Expressionists. In Berlin he was drawn to the military pageantry of the day. His earliest Berlin paintings were shown in the landmark 1913 Armory Show in New York.
He had always maintained an appreciation for the natural world so in early 1916 he left Berlin to return to Maine.
Hartley, who was by nature something of a loner, never lost his wanderlust, and lived in Europe again from 1921 to 1930. During his travels found inspiration in other European landscapes and cultures, including in southern France and Italy, and in later years, Bermuda, Mexico and Canada.
It was his life-long artistic relationship with his home state that defined his career. Maine was his refuge. The place where he was raised. It served as a creative springboard. It was a place that he sometimes hated because he had no one to bounce off of, and it could be quite lonely, but it was also a place where he felt at home.
Hartley died on September 2, 1943 in Ellsworth, Maine.
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