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The Colby College Museum of Art has acquired a significant collection of German Expressionist prints, the gift of Norma Boom Marin. The remarkable gift of 28 prints, many of them brilliant or rare impressions, will make its first public appearance at Colby later this year.
Marin, widow of John Marin Jr. and daughter-in-law of the acclaimed American artist John Marin (1870–1953), has been a generous benefactor of the museum for decades, a life member of its Board of Governors, and recipient of the museum’s 2011 Jetté Award for Leadership in the Arts. She has assembled a major collection of works on paper from some of the foremost German artists of the early 20th century. The collection spans the years 1907-1924, when artists such as Otto Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were working at the top of their form.
Included within the Marin collection are five exceptional prints by Max Beckmann; of these, two are self-portraits, and one is an unrecorded proof state. The spectacular 1915 drypoint Die Granate (The Grenade), one of only 20 editioned impressions, thrums with the din of combat, something Beckmann had experienced firsthand as a medic in World War I. Other prints, such as Emil Nolde’s color lithograph Tingel-Tangel III and Conrad Felixmüller’s drypoint Artistin (Circus Performers) give tremendous insight into new spaces of Weimar sociability. With the addition of this material to the collection, the museum can now present a fuller narrative of global modernism, expanding faculty and student research opportunities across the curriculum.
“Norma has refined her eye as a collector over decades and has amassed a very personal and exceedingly rare group of prints from this period,” notes Sharon Corwin, the museum’s Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator. “They will transform our collection and connect our already strong holdings in the print medium to one of its greatest expressive moments.”
The Marin family has deep roots in Maine, and for more than 45 years has been a committed supporter of the Colby museum. The artist John Marin first visited the state in 1914 and made near-annual retreats to the midcoast and Down East until his death in 1953. The landscapes and seascapes of Maine became a central and celebrated theme in his art. The family built a permanent summer residence at Cape Split in 1933, a place the Marins still call home today. In 1971 John Marin Jr. and his wife, Norma, loaned to the Colby museum more than 80 works from their collection of American art. Two years later, the Marins gave 24 works by John Marin to the museum, and Norma Marin supplemented these with promised gifts in 1998 and in 2011, when she initiated a major gift of more than 150 modern and contemporary photographs. Today the Colby museum has one of the deepest and most complete holdings of art by John Marin in the country.
Selections from the collection will be on view this summer as part of Modern Wonder: The John Marin Collection, an exhibition devoted to Marin’s career and the history of the collection at Colby.
The headlining summer exhibition, Self and Society: The Norma Boom Marin Collection of German Expressionist Prints, will be on view from July 14, 2018, through Jan. 13, 2019.
Colby College Museum of Art
Founded in 1959, the Colby College Museum of Art comprises five wings, more than 9,000 works of art, and more than 38,000 square feet of exhibition space. Major works by American masters, including Albert Bierstadt, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase, form the core of the historical collection, along with significant holdings of American folk art. The modern movement is represented by important works by artists, including John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Joan Mitchell, Isamu Noguchi, and Alma Thomas.
The museum also maintains a significant collection of contemporary American art, including works by Alex Katz (with more than 900 works represented), Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Martin Puryear, Terry Winters, and Julie Mehretu.
Other principal areas of the collection include Greek and Roman antiquities, European prints and drawings, and early Chinese art. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. It also is open Thursdays until 9 p.m. during the academic year. The public is invited to join the conversation online via dedicated social communities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@colbymuseum and #colbymuseum). For additional information, please visit colby.edu/museum.