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Marsden Hartley: The Biography of an American Artist

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Drawing on Hartley's letters and other writings as well as on the correspondence and reminiscences of the artist's friends, Ludington ( Twentieth-Century Odyssey: The Life of John Don Passos ) traces the restless career of the painter from Maine (1877-1943). Hartley, who spent his life moving between Europe and the U.S., had troubled friendships with some of the most important artists and writers of his day--Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Fairfield Porter, Eugene O'Neill, Georgia O'Keeffe and others. His relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, who supported him financially and exhibited his work at his Manhattan gallery 291, runs like a leitmotif through the book and indicates Hartley's character--demanding, touchy, often ungrateful but also compelling. Lonely, insecure, ambivalent about his homosexuality, Hartley was drawn into curious attachments and questionable allegiances, even embracing Hitlerism; yet he was able to form a close bond with a working-class family with whom he lived in Nova Scotia. This frank and unsentimental account of a life of contradictions and paradoxes returns one to the artist's paintings with a fresh eye. Illustrations not seen by PW.

 

Details
  • Paperback
  • 6 1/10" x 1" x 9 1/5"
  • 344 pages
  • Cornell University Press, 1998
  • ISBN-10: 0801485800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801485800
Editorial Reviews
"A penetrating biography. . . . Ludington offers a psychological portrait of an intense, contradictory, scornful, but gentle man who transcended his nineteenth-century roots in Lewiston, Maine, to view Europe as his home and to make a distinctive contribution to modernism."―Kirkus Reviews "Drawing on Hartley's letters and other writings as well as on the correspondence and reminiscences of the artist's friends, Ludington traces the restless career of the painter. . . . [Hartley] had troubled friendships with some of the most important artists and writers of his day―Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Fairfield Porter, Eugene O'Neill, Georgia O'Keeffe, and others. His relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, who supported him financially and exhibited his work, . . . runs like a leitmotif through the book, and indicates Hartley's character―demanding, touchy, often ungrateful but also compelling. . . . This frank and unsentimental account of a life of contradictions and paradoxes returns one to the artist's paintings with a fresh eye."―Publishers Weekly "Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) had a virtually unique role as a modernist painter. He was notable not only for his powerful canvases but for his poetry and essays. Townsend Ludington's astute portrait of the artist focuses upon his cosmopolitan sensibility in a generation melding modern art with an American tradition of mystical idealism. . . . Ludington views Hartley as an essential American artist embarked on a spiritual odyssey."―Robert Taylor, Boston Globe
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