Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), the self-proclaimed “painter of Maine,” spent much of his life traveling far from his New England roots. As a lifelong wanderer, the places he lived and the objects he collected took on enormous significance for him. Certain locations, from Paris to Berlin, New York to New Mexico, served as touchstones throughout Hartley’s life. He returned to some and never really left others; vivid recollections fill his writings, his reminiscences strengthened by the postcards and pressed flowers he kept. Marsden Hartley: Adventurer in the Arts and its accompanying catalogue trace Hartley’s lifelong search for inspiration and invention.
The exhibition, developed by the Vilcek Foundation in collaboration with the Bates College Museum of Art, brings together over 40 paintings and drawings spanning 36 years of the American Modernist artist’s career. The exhibition includes Schiff, 1915, a landmark painting created during Hartley’s time in Germany, which will be shown in the U.S. for only the second time. Artworks from the Vilcek and Bates collections will be exhibited alongside a selection of Hartley’s personal effects—mementos from his travels, snapshots, and keepsakes. The remarkable assemblage adds intimacy and depth, as well as a deeper understanding of his art, life, and wanderlust. The exhibition also features three important paintings by Hartley in the collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art.
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation—to honor immigrant contributions to the United States and, more broadly, to foster appreciation of the arts and sciences—was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history. The foundation awards annual prizes to immigrant biomedical scientists and artists, sponsors cultural programs, and manages the Vilcek Foundation Art Collections.
The Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection at Bates College Museum of Art holds over 100 drawings, several paintings, and an incredible array of Hartley’s possessions, including objects from his studio, books, souvenirs, cultural objects from his travels, and other memorabilia. The extensive collection also features 160 books from Hartley’s library, original manuscripts of poems, photographs from throughout his life, and postcards from his travels. Bates College Museum of Art is also home to The Marsden Hartley Legacy Project: The Complete Paintings and Works on Paper.