Marin and the Critics

John Marin's Legacy
March 21, 2020
John Marin, Movement, Sea Played with Boat Motive, 1947
John Marin, Movement, Sea Played with Boat Motive, 1947

Marin’s life and work embraced energy and conflict but rarely struggle. His letters are filled with affirming awe for the crash of waves against rock and tales of trudging over New Mexican mesas and desert islands, easel in tow. His work in New York City and nearby New Jersey evoke similar primal forces, the flow of human life slapping, surf-like, against the angular crags of the rising skyscraper horizon. But if in all of these there was dynamism and conflict, they also possessed an element of play. The jovial quality of the man is recorded in his many letters to friends and family, and in the touch of his brush. The generation that followed Marin—both historically and by dint of influence—grew the germs of his expressionism in scale and violence. Artists Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and Arshile Gorky gained immeasurably from Marin’s legacy, but what they added in scale, they paid for in joyfulness. The Abstract Expressionists carried Marin’s baton, replacing that joy with angst. Marin and his work are not empty of pathos, but always in measure and balance with energy, and life.



On view at the Park Avenue Armory during the ADAA Art Show through March 1, and at 22 E80th Street through April 24th, 2020. The gallery is open to the public 9:30 to 5:30, Monday through Friday, and by appointment, at 22 East 80th Street, New York, NY, 10075. Visit or email, or call (212) 879-8815 for more information.