Marsden Hartley (American, January 4, 1877–September 2, 1943) was a renowned essayist, poet, and Modernist painter. He is perhaps best known for his Dogtown series of paintings, as well as for his book of poetry entitled Twenty-five Poems. Hartley was born into a large family in which he was the youngest of nine children. He was born in Lewiston, ME, where his family stayed until moving to Cleveland, OH. While there, Hartley attended the Cleveland School of Art. At the age of 22, Hartley chose to study with William Merritt Chase (American, 1849–1916) at the New York School of Art. Hartley also attended the National Academy of Design at one point.

During his stay in Manhattan, Hartley befriended Albert Pinkham Ryder (American, 1847–1917), who inspired Hartley to see his art in a more spiritual sense. In 1908, Hartley moved to Lovell, ME, to live on an abandoned farm. During his time at the farm, Hartley produced what he considered his first mature paintings. Art promoter Alfred Stieglitz was impressed with the paintings, and so he helped Hartley stage his first solo art exhibition.

In 1912, Hartley went to Europe. While in Europe, Hartley befriended various artists and writers who were associated with Gertrude Stein (American, 1874–1946). With the encouragement of the people he met in Paris, Hartley decided to pursue writing in addition to his painting. By 1913, Hartley had moved to Berlin. During his time in Berlin, Hartley's work was greatly influenced by the Abstract, as well as German Expressionism. 1913 also marked the year that Hartley's earliest Berlin paintings were shown at the Armory Show in New York. In 1914, Hartley painted one of his most notable works, Portrait of a German Officer.

In 1916, Hartley moved back to the United States. However, he moved back to Europe and stayed there from 1921 to 1930. Once he returned to the United States, he lived in various places such as New Mexico, New York, and California. In 1937, Hartley decided to return to Maine. He remained in Maine and became part of the Regionalism movement. Hartley was also known for his story Cleophas and His Own: A North Atlantic Tragedy. The artist died on September 2, 1943.

Timeline

1877
Born: Lewiston, Maine (Edmund Hartley- January 4th)
1943
Dies: Maine (September 2nd)
Enrolls at Cleveland School of Art but leaves in 1899 after receiving a New York School of Art five year scholarship
Transfers to National Academy of Design, New York
Adopts stepmother’s maiden surname, Marsden, and calls himself Edmund Marsden Hartley
Drops his first name and calls himself Marsden Hartley
In New York, meets Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer and influential art dealer of modern American artists (including John Marin, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keeffe); solo show at Stieglitz’s Gallery 291 (the first of eight more solo shows with Stieglitz, the last in 1937); receives weekly stipend from dealer N.E. Montross for next two years; completes Dark Mountain series, inspired by Albert Pinkham Ryder
Matisse and Rodin drawing exhibition at 291 inspires his palette to change to bright fauvist colors; Picasso exhibition at 291 influences his own abstractions
Solo show at 291; travels to Europe for first time, settles in Paris; meets Leo and Gertrude Stein; befriends Germans Arnold Ronnebeck and his cousin, Karl von Freyburg; begins still lifes inspired by Cezanne; produces abstractions based on Christian mythics
Travels to Berlin and Munich, settles in Berlin; meets Kandinsky and Franz Marc; makes abstractions of Berlin military pageantry; participates in Armory show in New York
Returns to New York for third solo exhibition at 291; travels again to Berlin and begins ‘Amerika” series which includes Native American imagery; father dies; friend Karl von Freyburg killed in war; begins German Officer paintings
Participates in The Forum exhibition at Anderson Galleries, New York; solo show at 291 comprised of German Officer paintings; travels include: Provincetown, Massachusetts (summer 1916, spent with artists Carl Sprinchorn, Charles Demuth, William and Marguerite Zorach), Bermuda with Charles Demuth (winter 1916), and Maine (summer 1917)
Arrives in Taos, New Mexico, settles in Santa Fe; works in pastel and makes New Mexico landscapes
Visits Carl Sprinchorn in California; summer and fall in New Mexico; returns to New York
Proceeds from New York auction at Anderson Galleries supports him for many years; returns to Berlin via Paris
Prints series of lithographs; paints still lifes of bowls, baskets, fruit, and bread; starts New Mexico Recollections series, 1923; visits Italy, 1923
Forms network of collectors who provide stipend for four years; travels to Paris via London, Brussels, Antwerp; continues New Mexico Recollections
Rents house in Vence, France, for one year; produces landscapes of Italian Alps near Gattiere and Carros
Moves to Aix-en-Provence and rents former studio of Cezanne; begins Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings inspired by Cezanne; travels to Paris, Berlin, and Hamburg
Returns to New York; summers in New Hampshire and Maine; travels to Paris and paints seashell still lifes
Solo exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s Intimate Gallery, New York; travels include: Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Toulouse, Paris, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden; returns to New York in 1930
Receives Guggenheim fellowship travel grant and chooses Mexico; summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts and begins first of three series of “Dogtown” paintings; arrives Mexico City, 1932, moves to Cuernavaca; included in the first Whitney Biennial
Sails to Hamburg in April, stays through summer; travels to Bavarian Alps and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in September, stays through winter; long hikes inspire drawings and paintings of these mountains; Hartley begins his autobiography, Somehow a Past
Departs Europe, never to return again; spends winters in New York for rest of his life, and summers frequently in Maine and Massachusetts; summers in Gloucester and starts second “Dogtown” series
Poor finances force his destruction of a hundred works of art to escape storage bills; becomes depressed and ill; travels to Bermuda for rehabilitation, then to Nova Scotia where he boards with family of Francis and Martha Mason on Eastern Points Island
Employed by Works Progress Administration in New York; solo show at Alfred Stieglitz’s An American Place; returns to Eastern Points Island and works on third series of “Dogtown” pictures from memory; Mason sons Donny and Alty drown in hurricane and Hartley’s devastation prompts his return to New York
Last solo show at Stieglitz’s An American Place; Hudson D. Walker becomes Hartley’s new dealer; moves to Portland, Maine
First solo show at Hudson D. Walker Gallery in New York (contines annual solo shows through 1940); summers in Maine; begins series of portraits of Nova Scotia people; moves to Boston
Summer travels in Maine: Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, Corea, and Bangor; climbs Mount Katahdin
Represented by Macbeth Galleries, New York, after Hudson D. Walker Gallery closes; new paintings feature figures on beaches and seascapes; writes prose poem Cleophas and His Own, based on his Nova Scotia experience; travels to Cincinnati for joint show with Stuart Davis at Cincinnati Art Museum
Solo exhibition at Paul Rosenberg Gallery, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art awards Hartley purchase prize from Artists for Victory exhibition

Exhibitions

2008
Modernidad americana. Obras de la Corcoran Gallery of Art - Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona
2008
Pretty Ugly - Gavin Brown's Enterprise GBE modern, New York City, NY
2008
Painting in the United States: 1943-1949 - Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA
2008
The American Evolution - A History through Art - The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2008
Paradigms and the Unexpected: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Shey Collection - Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL
2008
Marsden Hartley and the West: The Search for an American Modernism - Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX (solo)
2008
Marsden Hartley: American Modern - Boise Art Museum BAM, Boise, ID (solo)
2008
Marsden Hartley and The West: The Search for an American Modernism - Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM (solo)
2007
Marsden Hartley: American Modern - El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), El Paso, TX (solo)
2007
Marsden Hartley: American Modern - Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette, IN (solo)
2006
Marsden Hartley - American Modern - Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL (solo)
2006
Marsden Hartley: American Modern - New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM (solo)
2005
Marsden Hartley - American Modern - Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA (solo)
2004
Marsden Hartley: Image and Identity - Bates College Museum of Arts, Lewiston, ME (solo)
2003
Marsden Hartley - The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (solo)
2001
Marsden Hartley - Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1999
Marsden Hartley - American Modern - Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL (solo)
1998
Marsden Hartley: An American Modern - Newcomb Art Gallery , New Orleans, LA (solo)
1996
Alfred Stieglitz and Early Modern Photography - MFA - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MA
1995
Dictated by Life - Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
1987
The Window in Twentieth-Century Art - Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX
1944
Marsden Hartley - MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY (solo)
1913
Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon - Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin (closed, 1932)