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John Marin grew up in Weehawken, New Jersey, and attended the Stevens Institute of Technology for a year. His experience with architecture might have contributed to the role played by architectural themes in his paintings and watercolors. Marin is often credited with influencing the Abstract Expressionists. His treatment of paint, handling oils almost like watercolors, forays into abstraction and evocative stretches of bare canvas caught the eye of younger painters.
From 1899 to 1901, Marin attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In Philadelphia he studied with Thomas Pollock Anshutz and William Merritt Chase. He also studied at the Art Students League of New York. In 1905 like many American artists Marin went to Europe, initially to Paris. He traveled through Europe for six years. Marin painted in Holland, Belgium, England, and Italy. In Europe he mastered a type of watercolor where he achieved an abstract ambience, almost a pure abstraction with color that ranges from transparency to translucency, accompanied by strong opacities, and linear elements, always with a sense of freedom, which became one of his trademarks.
In 1909, Marin held his first one-man exhibition at Alfred Stieglitzâ€™s gallery, 291 in New York City. The photographer Edward Steichen, whom Marin had met through the painter Arthur B. Carles, introduced him to Stieglitz. Marinâ€™s and Stieglitzâ€™s association would last nearly forty years. Stieglitzâ€™s support, in both philosophical and financial respects, was essential to Marin.
Marin spent his first summer in Maine in 1914 and, almost immediately, the rocky coast there became one of his favorite subjects. Over the rest of his life, Marin became intimately familiar with the many moods of the sea and sky in Maine. â€śIn painting water make the hand move the way the water moves,â€ť Marin wrote in a 1933 letter to an admirer of his technique.
In 1936, he had a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art. His paintings are represented in several important permanent collections and museums including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and many others.
Late in life Marin achieved tremendous prestige as an American painter, an elder statesman of American art. In 1950, he was honored by the University of Maine and Yale University with honorary degree's of Doctor of Fine Arts.
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