Visionary Painting presents a selection of works showing artists in compelling dialogue with the work of Marsden Hartley. Alex Katz (born 1927) credits Hartley with creating “a vision of Maine that dominates people’s minds even today.” Curated by Katz as a companion to Marsden Hartley’s Maine, this exhibition considers how the American modernist’s thematic and stylistic meandering has resonated with postwar and contemporary painters internationally. Katz even includes the Maine-born folk artist William Matthew Prior in the exhibition to establish historical antecedents for Hartley’s eccentric figuration.
As Katz demonstrates, Hartley’s expressive paint handling has influenced the work of artists such as Bob Thompson and Jan Muller, but also, more recently, and on a much larger scale, the gestural drama of Chantal Joffe. Hartley’s capacity to project sublime desolation comes into sharper focus when one considers Lois Dodd’s Moon Ring. Lessons learned from his graphic immediacy register here in the work of Bernard Langlais and Etel Adnan. By asking one artist to reflect on the legacy of another, this installation shows how painters construct functional genealogies for themselves and their peers, and how these models can enhance our appreciation of the many interconnections.