Published by D.A.P./LACMA. Edited by Dieter Scholz. Foreword by Udo Kittelmann. Text by Ilene Susan Fort, Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Kaitlyn Hogue Mellini, Alexia Pooth, Bruce Robertson, Thomas Weissbrich, Cornelia Wieg.
This volume takes a close look at the most popular and influential period of the great American modernist painter Marsden Hartley—his Berlin years, during which he produced his pioneering "German Officer" portraits and a series of works that occupy a unique zone between abstraction and figuration. During a brief stint in Paris, Hartley met and fell in love with a Prussian officer, and early in 1913 he followed the officer to Berlin. When war broke out the officer was called up, and was killed in action in October 1914. Mourning his loss, Hartley created an astounding series of paintings that abstracted components of the officer's uniform, retaining their military symbolism and patterns. Nearly a half-century later, this combination of bright color and composition with popular signage, informed by the coding of gay culture, was to make a strong impact on Pop artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Indiana. In this volume, approximately 25 of the artist's works from these years (1913–15) reveal the impact of World War I and elucidate the artist's appropriation of military symbols and Native American motifs. Also included are an illustrated chronology and a wealth of archival material that conveys the historical moment in which these works were made. Their presentation in Los Angeles marks the first focused exhibition of Hartley's Berlin paintings in the US since they were created. Marsden Hartley was born in Lewiston, Maine, in 1877. After studying at the Cleveland School of Art he won a scholarship to study in New York, where he became one of the first American artists to adopt the discoveries of Picasso, Kandinsky and Klee. His first solo exhibition was held at Alfred Stieglitz's legendary 291 gallery. In 1912 he moved to Paris and was welcomed into the circle of Gertrude Stein. After extensive travels, in the 1930s Hartley returned to Maine, where he died in 1943.