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City Construction

© Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

John Marin

American, 1870-1953

City Construction, 1932

watercolor and charcoal on paper

image area: 26 3/4 x 21 7/8 inches (67.94 x 55.56 cm); sheet: 35 x 30 inches (88.9 x 76.2 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

George Cary Fund, 1954

1954:3

More Details

Inscriptions

signature / lower right / Marin 32

Provenance

estate of the artist;
Downtown Gallery, New York;
purchased from Downtown Gallery by Albright Art Gallery, 1954

Class

Paintings (visual works)
Drawings (visual works)

Work Type

Watercolor (painting)
Drawing (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

In 1948, a Look magazine poll of art critics and museum directors voted John Marin “America’s Greatest Artist.” Known for his images of land and sea, Marin also turned his attention to the urban landscape, including the new skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan depicted here, framed by an oval shape as if seen through a window. With their vertiginous heights and boxy shapes, skyscrapers were ideal subjects for the dynamic, geometric styles of early twentieth-century art, which influenced Marin early in his career. By rendering the skyscrapers with energetic diagonals and rapidly applied paint, Marin connected them to the excitement of city life. Commenting on these new structures in a 1913 issue of Camera Work, Marin argued that “the whole city is alive; buildings, people, all are alive.” If you look closely, you may notice that the window through which we view these “living” buildings is shaped like an artist’s palette, creating an analogy between the “construction” of cities and of paintings—both of which are part of modern life.

Label from Window to Wall: Art from Architecture, November 18, 2017–March 18, 2018

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