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Hartley Artworks

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[Harbor Scene Viewed Through Fish Nets]

ca. 1930s
Marsden Hartley, American, (Lewiston, ME, January 4, 1877 - September 2, 1943, Ellsworth, ME)

In this and the next drawing (1955.1.40) the artist exploits the pen and ink medium—its fluidity, short, staccato dashes, and density of hatching strokes—to its most expressive effect. He intentionally obscures our view of the sailboats and fish shacks behind by means of a swirling veil of fishnets and floats hanging out to dry, using the medium to activate the scene, transforming it from a straightforward harbor motif (as in 1955.1.38) to a dynamic, nearly abstract rendering. The semi-visible "real" compositional elements surrender to the fractured space, while the composition as a whole seems to float, unmoored and surrounded by the dots and dashes and rhythmic lines of the foreground, right side, and sky.

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