About the Object
The “cosmic cubism” of this painting reveals the influence of mysticism, German military iconography, and Wassily Kandinsky’s writing on the interconnectedness of painting, music, color, and form. Hartley spent three weeks in Berlin in January 1913 and was so taken with the city that he moved there that May. For him, the city was “full of mystical ideas + color” as well as military pageantry.
This painting is often described as a transitional work, combining elements from Hartley’s musical-themed works that preceded it including Musical Theme No. 2 (Bach Preludes et Fugues), 1912, in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid and the military-themed works that came after it like Himmel, c. 1914–15, in The Nelson–Atkins Museum of Art.
Estate of Alfred Stieglitz;
[E. Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY];
[Babcock Galleries, New York, NY];
[Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, NY];
[Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM];
New York. Anderson Galleries. The Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters. March 13-25, 1916, no. 53.
Probably: Chicago. Arts Club Chicago. Exhibition of Modern American Paintings. February 10-24,1928, cat no. 34 or 35.
New York. Martha Jackson Gallery. Marsden Hartley – The Berlin Period, 1913-1915: Abstract Oils and Drawings. January 3-31, 1955, cat. no. 8.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art. Synchromism and American Color Abstraction, 1910-1925. (January 24-March 26, 1978); Houston. The Museum of Fine Arts (April 20-June 18, 1978); Des Moines. Des Moines Art Center (July 6-September 3, 1978); San Francisco. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (September 22-November 19, 1978); Syracuse. Everson Museum of Art (December 15, 1978-January 28, 1979); Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts (February 15-March 24, 1979), pp. 43, 140, ill. np., pl. no. 144.
Hartford, Connecticut. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Marsden Hartley (January 17-April 20, 2003); Washington, D.C. Phillips Collection (June 7- September 7, 2003); Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (October 11, 2003-January 11, 2004); p. 61, 291 cat. no. 9, ill. p. 61, pl. 9.
New York. The Vilcek Foundation. With Color. May 16, 2013.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. Marsden Hartley: The German Paintings, 1913-1915 (April 3-June 29, 2014); Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (August 3-November 30, 2014).
Tulsa. Philbrook Museum of Art. From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from the Vilcek Foundation Collection (February 8-May 3, 2015); Phoenix. Phoenix Art Museum (June 5-September 6, 2015); Santa Fe. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (September 25, 2015-January 10, 2016).
Humlebaek, Denmark. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Marsden Hartley. September 19, 2019-January 19, 2020.
Lewiston, ME. Bates College Museum of Art. Marsden Hartley: Adventurer in the Arts (September 20-November 19, 2021); New York. The Vilcek Foundation (March 10-June 16, 2023).
Alfred Stieglitz Collection list. Downtown Gallery Records, Series 2: Artist Files, A-Z: Hartley, Marsden, 1931-1936, Reel 5548, Frame 550. Archives of American Art,Smithsonian Institution.
Elizabeth McCausland Papers, Marsden Hartley Catalogue Raisonné: Oils, [circa 1944-1964]. Box 13, Folder 49, Frames 18-21, ill. Frames 18, 21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Elizabeth McCausland Papers, Marsden Hartley Catalogue Raisonné: Still Life Oils, [circa 1944-1964]. Box 15, Folder 20, Frames 11-12. In a letter to Hans Huth at the AIC, McCausland notes that she has located labels on the backs of Hartley works which correspond to a rare annotated checklist of the Forum exhibition, which was not included in the catalogue. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Levin, Gail. “Wassily Kandinsky and the American Avant-Garde, 1912-1950,” PhD dissertation, Rutgers University, 1976, pp. xi, 99-100, ill. fig. 35.
Levin, Gail. “Hidden Symbolism in Marsden Hartley’s Military Pictures,” Arts Magazine 54, no. 2 (October 1979), pp. 155-158, ill. p. 155, fig. 3.
Levin, Gail. “Marsden Hartley and Mysticism,” Arts Magazine 60, no. 3 (November 1985), pp. 16- 17, ill. p. 16, fig. 4.
Harnsberger, R. Scott. Four Artists of the Stieglitz Circle: A Sourcebook on Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Max Weber. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002, p. 143.
Westheider, Ortrud. “An American in Munich and Berlin: Marsden Hartley and the Blaue Reiter in Modern Life,” in Barbara Haskell and Ortrud Westheider, Edward Hopper and His Time. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2009,p. 41, ill. p. 41, fig. no. 5.
Agee, William C. and Lewis Kachur. Masterpieces of American Modernism: From the Vilcek Collection. London: Merrell, 2013, pp. 52-53, 235, 241, 242, 266, ill. pp. 53, 54-55.
Pochoda, Elizabeth. “Freedom and the abstract truth: Jan and Marica Vilcek’s collection of American modernist art,” The Magazine Antiques (May/June 2013), ill. p. 101.
O’Hern, John. “Modern Manor,” American Fine Art Magazine, September/October 2013, ill. p. 54.
Evans, Dorinda. “An American Prelude to the Abstract Portrait,” in This is a Portrait if I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today. Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2016, pp. 26-28, ill. p. 26, fig. 9.