Marsden Hartley and the West

The Search for an American Modernism

Heather Hole; With a preface by Barbara Buhler Lynes

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A revelatory look at Hartley’s New Mexico landscapes and the darker side of postwar American modernism

Considered to be among the greatest early American modernists, the painter Marsden Hartley (1877–1943) traveled the United States and Europe in his search for a distinctive American aesthetic. His stay in New Mexico resulted in an extraordinary series of landscape paintings—created in New Mexico, New York, and Europe between 1918 and 1924—that show an evolution in style and thinking that is important for understanding both Hartley’s oeuvre and American modernism in the postwar years. Marsden Hartley and the West examines this pivotal stage of the painter’s career, drawing upon his writings and providing illustrations of rarely seen and previously unpublished works. The author considers Hartley’s involvement with the Stieglitz circle and its “soil-and-spirit” philosophy, the Taos art colony, New York Dada, and the impact of historical events such as World War I. Within this setting she analyzes the pastels and oil paintings that suggest Hartley’s increasingly ambivalent response to the land. Beginning with optimistic, naturalistic views, the New Mexico works grew progressively darker and more tumultuous, increasingly reflecting a sense of loss brought on by war. The paintings become a site where the landscapes of memory, self, and nation merge, while reflecting broader modernist debates about “American-ness” and a usable past.

Heather Hole is assistant curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Barbara Buhler Lynes is curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Emily Fisher Landau Director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center. Her books include Georgia O’Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art, 1860–1940 and Georgia O’Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, both published by Yale University Press.



The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe (January 25 – May 11, 2008)  

Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (June 14 – August 24, 2008)

"Drawing upon his writings and using illustrations of rarely seen and previously unpulished works, Hole considers Hartley's involvement with the Stieglitz circle and its 'soil-and-spirit' philosophy, the Taos art colony and New York Dada and the impact of historical events such as World War I. She analyzes those pastels and paintings that suggest Hartley's increasingly ambivalent response to the land."—Antiques and Fine Art

"The exceptional examples in Heather Hole's beautiful study reveal an artist who wedded considerable technique to a deep exploration of both his sexual longings and his project to adapt modernism to a homegrown art tradition."—Michael S. Gant, Metroactive

"Hole has advanced a persuasive argument that will recalibrate the manner in which Hartley is assimilated to the American canon. Highly recommended."—Choice

Included in the Holiday Gift Guide: Art Books (2007) by the Denver Post

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.

Winner of the 2008 Southwest Book Award, sponsored by the Border Regional Library Association.
ISBN: 9780300121490
Publication Date: December 28, 2007
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
208 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
86 b/w + 49 color illus.

Georgia O`Keeffe

Catalogue Raisonné

Barbara Buhler Lynes

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