Also this Hartley painting nearby might represent marching band noises, that's a nice connection!
There's a nice cluster of several works that evoke music and sound in that corner! You already spotted the parade music of Marsden Hartley's painting. He liked attending military processions in Berlin and listening to the military brass bands. There are also details in this painting that refer to German military uniforms and military decorations.
Where did Hartley paint this? It doesn't look like Maine!
You're right about that! Marsden Hartley painted it in Berlin, actually! He was inspired by the colorful regalia and bold music of the military parades that he viewed there.
Although he is one of Maine's most famous native artists, Hartley spent several years formative to his practice in the German capital. Surprisingly, although there are works by Hartley in major German collections, he is nowhere near as popular there as he is stateside. Are you a fan of his work?
Yes! Are there any other works by him on view?
Yes, though not in that same area.
Where are they?
You can see more of Hartley's work in our Luce Visible Storage area, also on the fifth floor. I usually mention this to our visitors as a "insider tip." There are amazing wonders to be found in the cases at Luce!
Very bold and vibrant.
Hartley's use of color at this point was definitely influenced by his study of German Expressionism and the works of artists like Kandinsky. However, his fascination with Germany's military pageantry was something very personal!
He tries to evoke the sights and sounds of a parade here---including details of military uniforms. There's s form inspired by an epaulette (a shoulder ornament with fringe) to the left, and a vertical grouping of cymbals on the right.
I like the repetition of circular forms in the painting, echoing the curves of the 8.
Me too---he felt that the number 8 had mystical power, and he surrounded it with a mandorla (almond-shaped halo) similar to the shapes that sometimes frame saints in Christian art.
Just below the 8, there's an 8-pointed star inspired by a military decoration, and he gave it a colorful 8-part wheel as its center.
He may have been thinking about the "eightfold path" of Buddhism (the route to spiritual enlightenment) and alluding to it with the number 8 and the 8-part wheel.
Thanks so much.
Marsden Hartley is a favorite artist of mine.
This painting by Hartley comes from his time in Berlin just before World War I. He was inspired by the military processions and brass bands that he encountered in the city. I think the painting really captures the busy nature of the spectacle.
I've enjoyed his style ever since seeing a show of his paintings in Sacramento where I live! Thanks!
How does this work relate Hartley's other work on view, "The Last Look of John Donne?"
"Painting No. 48," is a much earlier work, completed in 1915 as opposed to 1940 for "John Donne." Here, Hartley is still working in a primarily abstract style. He uses color and shape to convey emotion as opposed to a more representational style.
However, both pieces do share Hartley's characteristic sense of mysticism. While abstract, with its haloes of light and undulating forms, there is something spiritual about "Painting No. 48." Meanwhile, the otherworldly blank gaze of cleric and metaphysical poet John Donne speaks to an artist literally peering into the celestial realm.