From 1913-1915, Hartley (1877-1943) lived in Germany where he was influenced by German Expressionism. Cézanne's work also had a profound affect on Hartley, as evidenced by this drawing - part of a series Hartley did - which can be compared with Cézanne's many studies of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Throughout the 1920s Hartley also experimented with still lifes in the manner of Cézanne. Along with Arthur Dove, John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe, he is seen as one of the forerunners of American modernism.
The present work, entitled Alpspitze # 3, was part of a series that Hartley did, the first of which was featured in a major exhibition in 1989-1990 curated by Gail Levin called "Hartley in Bavaria" which traveled to Hamilton College, Baruch College and Bowdoin College in Maine. The text in the catalogue, accompanying an illustration of "Alspitze" (also done in 1933), states: "Hartley wrote to his niece that 'it is snowing a lot and I am painting Alpine snow effects indoors. I walk six or seven miles and make the drawing and the rest is memory - but I have had to work that way for years and it is my way of showing how much I have learned and absorbed from nature.' .... Hartley was reasonably pleased with his own efforts at painting the Alps which he thought he would call "portraits": "I have at last registered some Alps and they look most Alpish which is of course what I want they to do, but they are not like anything that the common world would think of as Alps, because these Alps themselves, that is the few usable motives are the most original I have ever seen, and I have I know, gotten them as they are, and with as close a fidelity as the eye is capable of and not use a camera, even a camera cannot get the inner effects of them, but all I wished I have put in these new ones for what I wanted to get is their inner character, and still have them look "natural" so that the peasant would say at once O yes...that is Alpspitz and know the difference when he is looking..."
This work bears the original Zabriskie Gallery, New York label on the verso.
Note that Hartley's Alspitze - sold at Swann's auction back in 2011 for US $10,200. [Thursday, June 9, 2011 [Lot 00058]
Below are the details of that sale:
Description MARSDEN HARTLEY, Alpspitze.
Pencil on cream wove paper, 1933. 260x350 mm; 10 1/4x13 3/4 inches. Initialed, titled and dated in pencil, lower right recto
Size Height 10.2 in.; Width 13.8 in.
Misc. Signed, Inscribed
Sale of Swann Galleries: Thursday, June 9, 2011 [Lot 00058]
American and Contemporary Art
Sold For 10,200 USD Premium
Signature: unsigned; framed with Zabriskie Gallery label verso.
Works from Marsden Hartley's Alpspitze series were exhibited in 1989-1990 in the major US traveling exhibition "Hartley in Bavaria", at Baruch College, Hamilton College and Bowdoin College, curated by Gail Levin.
Works from this series were featured in the exhibition catalogue "Hartley in Bavaria", published in conjunction with the 1989-1990 exhibition at Baruch College, Hamilton College and Bowdoin College, curated by Gail Levin.
About Marsden Hartley
A seminal modernist and member of Alfred Stieglitz’s groudbreaking circle, Marsden Hartley painted easel-sized landscapes, portraits, still lifes, and abstract compositions based on pre-World War I German military paraphernalia and medals. He was deeply attached to nature, and his solidly painted forms evoke a primordial geologic power and poetic sense of isolation that transcends observed reality. Exaggerated form, strong outline and flattened space are among Hartley’s signature strategies. During his peripatetic life he painted many of the places he visited, including Maine, Paris, Germany, Mexico, New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Cape Cod, Gloucester, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, and the south of France. Although working primarily in oil, Hartley also produced a number of pastels over the course of his career and experimented with painting directly on glass.
American, 1877-1943, Lewiston, ME, United States, based in Ellsworth, ME, United States