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Hartley Entire Collection

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[Standing Male Figure, No. 2]

ca. 1938-1941
Marsden Hartley, American, (Lewiston, ME, January 4, 1877 - September 2, 1943, Ellsworth, ME)

This ink drawing, as well as 1955.1.6 and 1955.1.8), depict square-shouldered muscle men, nude except for tight briefs and executed in the same heavily shaded manner. Inspiration for these drawings probably derives from the male figure in a photograph Hartley took of a shirtless man in long pants, in the same pose—showing off his muscular arms held akimbo, hands on hips, and V-shaped torso.

Such hefty, athletic male figures, standing, walking, or sitting, are found throughout Hartley's career. He reveled in the male body and over the years sought out such musclemen in gyms, wrestling matches, and on the beach, whether in Berlin (1913-15; 1922-23), Munich (1933-34), Old Orchard Beach, Maine (1939) or Bangor, Maine (1940), often asking them to model for him in his studio. As a gay man, Hartley's absorption in the subject reflects a homoerotic fascination and a frank delight in male physicality.

Formerly thought to have been done in Berlin in the 1922-23 period, dating of them as been revised for several reasons. All but one of the figure drawings from 1922-23 are pastel or other chalks. Also, the angularity of head, jaw and nose, as well as the V-shape of the shoulders and arms with thick fingers angled in on the thighs and the bushy, upstanding hair, more closely resembles Hartley's later wrestlers and lifeguards executed between 1939-41—than the gymnasts or boxers done earlier in Berlin.

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