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Marsden Hartley
Race, Region, and Nation
Donna M. Cassidy

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2005 • 410 pp. 175 illus. (17 color). 6 1/4 x 9 1/4"
American Art

$50.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-446-9

Cassidy has written a courageous book . . . show[ing] how Hartley integrated his prejudices into his artistic program. Hartley’s art and life hold important lessons about the value of studying art... [continued in Reviews below]”—The New York Times Book Review

A provocative new reading of the great American avant-garde arist Marsden Hartley's late work.

At the vanguard of renewed interest in Maine’s influential early modernist Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), author Donna M. Cassidy brilliantly appraises the contemporary social, political, and economic realities that shaped Hartley’s landmark late art. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Hartley strove to represent the distinctive subjects of his native region—the North Atlantic folk, the Maine coast, and Mount Katahdin—producing work that demands an interpretive approach beyond art history’s customary biographical, stylistic, and thematic methodologies.

Cassidy, sensitive to the psychological and gender analysis traditionally central to interpretations of Hartley, becomes the first scholar to reassess his late work in light of contemporary American perceptions of race, ethnicity, place, and history. This remarkable new book resonates not only as a seminal Hartley study and a complex art and cultural period history, but as a superb example of applied early twentieth-century American intellectual history informed by an impressive command of primary and secondary interdisciplinary literature. Numerous and rich illustrations, as well as transcriptions of several key essays by Hartley, some never before published, including “This Country of Maine” (1937–38), round out this insightful, nuanced, and revolutionary treatment. Donna M. Cassidy’s Marsden Hartley will engage general readers as well as scholars and students.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Cassidy has written a courageous book . . . show[ing] how Hartley integrated his prejudices into his artistic program. Hartley’s art and life hold important lessons about the value of studying art in cultural context and the danger of the self-censorship that kept earlier generations of Americans from studying Nazi art and recognizing . . . uncomfortable links.”The New York Times Book Review

“Despite his reputation as an aesthete unaffected by social concerns, Cassidy argues, Hartley's late paintings look like works by a savvy operator who reinvented himself as a native-born painter in order to take advantage of the newfound popularity of a state that had added the 'Vacationland' slogan to its license plates in 1936. Traveling to scenic parts of Maine he'd never visited before, Hartley drew inspiration for the expressionist paintings of lighthouses, Mount Katahdin, and the like that he painted before his death in 1943 from the postcards and brochures he picked up.”Boston Globe

“[H]ighly readable, thoroughly researched, and thoughtfully conceived . . . Highly recommended.”Choice

“This study represents a decade-and-a-half of the author’s meticulous research, as she carefully reconstructs the social and cultural bases underpinning the representational strategies that Hartley adopted as he purposefully crafted his own artistic identity during the later phase of his career, circa 1934-43. Cassidy’s text is itself an impressively multi-layered, composite work that is a product not only of modernist art history but of rigorous cross-disciplinary inquiry in American Studies and New England Studies. This book represents the product of the sustained thought and probing inquiry Cassidy has devoted to these fascinating and complicated subjects. Cassidy has produced an archivally solid and conceptually powerful account of Hartley that suggestively extends the familiar parameters of the artistic monograph, just as she critically repositions Hartley’s paintings, writings, and rhetoric within an expanded—and evermore complex”—College Art Reviews

“Donna Cassidy offers us the most complete portrait we have of Marsden Hartley as an artist. Without ignoring the recent scholarship on Hartley’s sexuality, Cassidy returns him to his own sense of himself—one he arrived at with great struggle, to be sure—as a native of Maine, an artist who said what he had to say through the means of his local landscape and neighbors. Building on a decade of her own work, Cassidy convincingly presents Hartley not as an isolated, tortured genius, but someone fully aware of the art world he is operating in, an arena that after the early 1920’s was not ‘modernist’ but ‘Americanist.’ The larger issue the book tackles is modernism itself: it is a very welcome addition to the state of that question.”Bruce Robertson, Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, Chief Curator, Art of the Americas, and Deputy Director, Art Programs, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

This is a fresh and forceful study. Cassidy places Hartley’s writings and paintings of the late 1930s and early 1940s within the discourses of New England tourism, primitivism, Regionalism, and Nazism, giving us a complex picture of the aging artist seeking to become the ‘painter from Maine.’ Lucidly written, this book integrates art history and cultural studies in exemplary fashion.”Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History, Stanford University

DONNA M. CASSIDY is Professor of American & New England Studies and Art History at the University of Southern Maine, and the author of Painting the Musical City: Jazz and Cultural Identity in American Art, 1910–1940 (1997).

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:53:03 -0500