John Marin

by Paul Henrickson, Ph.D.


© 2013

John Marin may be, perhaps, one of the easiest of artists to trace the possible genesis of his creative approach...It seems that in addition to not being wedded to any particular technical approach, that s one established apriori, he was also very well aware of how his body, in its various sense levels, responded to his environment. I, too, have been physically and psychically overwhelmed by some of Maine’s rocky and tumultuous coast line. The painting below (by anonymous) hardly begins t o suggest the character of the sea. The shape of a breaker, its variations in colour and the wind-created spray are all visually reminiscent of what any have observed at some coast line but its unquestioned beautiful format ion doesn’t touch the relentless and unforgiving nature . Even the simple fact that he rejected New Jersey where the interacting social style seems somewhat milder form of the pretensions of Manhattan Maine is noted for the directness and the absence of social tomfoolery passed off as polite behavior . Marin’s very direct and somewhat stenographic approach matches the directness of social intercourse and the bold and very uny ielding Maine coastline. In so far as Marin’s life’s experiences may have influenced his perceptions...after all they almost always do, it is my proposition that having been left motherless at 9 days, raised by two (maiden?) aunts presumably sisters of his mother and no male, mentioned as having played a role in his appearance on earth or having had a significant part in his upbringing, adding to those deprivations the fact that he had been cursed with a face that was more Dionysian than Apollonian he had an array of bad luck experiences that might well have moulded his understanding and carved his attitudes....and thank God he had had the good fortune to having sensed the direction in which he might find some resonant salvation.

The muted moodiness of the of the potentially fatally consuming but always threatening deep might well have been a projection of his view of society generally. and the unforgiving nature of Maine’s coastal rocks may have matched his resentment for having been denied those qualities which would have made him an object of soothing dalliance. Even his hair style, seems a reflection of a need for intimate solitude. In this regard it seems related to the hairstyle of Hopi ,men and women, but theirs had become a social style whereas, in this regard as well, Marin’s was an individual choice.





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