Brooklyn Bridge

John Marin (American, Rutherford, New Jersey 1870–1953 Cape Split, Maine)

ca. 1912
Watercolor and charcoal on paper
18 5/8 x 15 5/8 in. (47.3 x 39.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Since the early twentieth century, John Marin has been considered an important member of the group of modern artists — including Georgia O'Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Marsden Hartley — who were associated with Alfred Stieglitz and his New York galleries. Although Marin had dabbled in art since childhood and went to work in an architect's office, he did not become a serious artist until he met Stieglitz in 1909, when Marin was almost forty years old. His fame was established early on as one of America's premier watercolorists, and his preferred subject was landscape. Most of his landscapes were done in Maine during the summer; the rest of the year the artist lived in Cliffside, New Jersey, and made frequent trips to New York City.

    "Brooklyn Bridge," dating about 1912, is of the period of Marin's first truly personal expression. Brightly, wittily, it communicates his sense of the excitement of urban life. In conjunction with one of his Photo-Secession shows, he wrote in "Camera Work" about his New York watercolors: "Shall we consider the life of a great city as confined simply to the people and animals on its streets and in its buildings? Are the buildings themselves dead? . . . I see great forces at work: great movements; the large buildings and the small buildings; the warring of the great and the small; influences of one mass on another greater or smaller mass. Feelings are aroused which give me the desire to express the reaction of these 'pull forces,' those influences which play with one another; great masses pulling smaller masses, each subject in some degree to the other's power. . . . While these powers are at work pushing, pulling, sideways, downwards, upwards, I can hear the sound of their strife and there is great music being played. And so I try to express graphically what a great city is doing. Within the frames there must be a balance, a controlling of these warring, pushing, pulling forces."

  • Exhibition History

    Australia: Australian National Gallery, Mar. 1-Apr. 27, 1986; Queensland Art Gallery, May 7-July 1, 1986. ¦20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art¦. exh. cat., p. 48 (illus. in color).

    New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, April 15 - September 15, 1999. ¦The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900 - 2000¦ Pg. 115, fig.204 illus. in color.

  • References

    New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, April 22 - October 9, 1994. Joseph Stella. Exh. cat. by Barbara Haskell. no. 126, p. 101 (illus. in balck & white).

    Katharine Lochnan, editor, David Milne Watercolors: "Painting toward the light", 2005, Art Gallery of Ontario, Douglas & McIntyre. (ill. in b&w)

  • See also