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Hartley Entire Collection

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[Figure Study for On the Beach]

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

This couple evolved into the central figural motif in Hartley's painting, On the Beach. In comparison to some of the Old Orchard drawings rendered with broken, schematic contour lines, this male and female figure are more anatomically developed, with details like spikey hair, deep-set eyes, chest hair, more fully articulated knee joints, and a modicum of shading to suggest volume. But again, what strikes us is the sensual pose, with its suggestion of intimacy. Interestingly, the final painting embraces the schematic and relies on exaggeration: the man in the duo becomes a giant, disproportionate to his girlfriend; his muscularity remains but contrariwise he and the girl resemble flattened cutouts and pattern takes over, such as the diamond shape formed between the arch of the girl's back and his bent knee. The transformation from the pencil study to finished oil, between observation and concept reveals much about Hartley's creative process.

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