Of Maine, Men, and Marsden Hartley

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Marsden Hartley’s Maine
At the Met Breuer, New York City
March 15–June 18, 2017

Exhibition Catalog
by Donna M. Cassidy, Elizabeth
Finch, and Randall R. Griffey
184 pages, $50.

 

 

ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN images of Marsden Hartley (1877–1943) comes to us through the lens of the great gay photographer George Platt Lynes in a photograph from 1943, shortly before Hartley’s death. Hartley slumps in a chair, his body casting massive shadows under the influence of Lynes’ harsh lighting. Hartley’s most marked (and remarked upon) physical feature—his large, liquid eyes—appear haunted, his head resting heavily on one hand.

            Photographic historian Allen Ellenzweig draws a connection between subject and photographer, as Lynes had recently lost his lover George Tichenor during World War II. Hartley, for his part, had experienced the death of a beloved World War I German officer, which inspired his most famous works, a series of abstract, symbolic object-portraits known as the “Berlin” paintings. In the background, a young male model leans against the wall just outside Hartley’s shadow, echoing the dual loss.

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Philip Clark is at work on a biography of gay publisher and First Amendment pioneer H. Lynn Womack.

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