John Marin: Modernism at Midcentury



Since his early work was first embraced by Alfred Stieglitz, John Marin (1870-1953) has been recognized as one of America's foremost watercolorists. During the last two decades of Marin's career, however, oil painting played a greater role in his studio practice. Marin's engagement with oil was liberating, eventually yielding a more fluid, linear, and calligraphic style.

This beautiful publication is the first to focus exclusively on Marin's output from the 1930s through the early 1950s, a corpus of nearly seventy works, which has been generally overlooked in art historical literature. Debra Bricker Balken resituates these works within the discourses of midcentury modernism, convincingly arguing that critics--such as Clement Greenberg--saw them as important precursors to Abstract Expressionism, influencing such artists as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Marin's painted abstractions of the Maine coast and Manhattan architecture were singled out for their invention, singularity, and authority, and forecast the new language of Abstract Expressionism.

Product Details

Yale University Press
Publish Date
June 23, 2011
9.81 X 0.64 X 11.29 inches | 2.15 pounds

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About the Author

Debra Bricker Balken is an independent curator and writer who has published widely on American modernism and contemporary art. Her recent books include Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence (Yale).


"A detailed account of Marin's place in the spectrum of midcentury American art." --The New York Times
--The New York Times
Runner-up for the 2011 New England Book Festival in the Photography/Art category. This award is given by the JM Northern Media family of festivals, and sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, eDivvy, Shophanista and Westside Websites -- (06/06/2012)
". . . a first-class effort, a penetrating study of a great painter . . . Read Balken's book and find out what you've been missing."--ArtsJournal--ArtsJournal