At the vanguard of renewed interest in Maine’s influential early modernist Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), author Donna M. Cassidy brilliantly appraises the contemporary social, political, and economic realities that shaped Hartley’s landmark late art. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Hartley strove to represent the distinctive subjects of his native region—the North Atlantic folk, the Maine coast, and Mount Katahdin—producing work that demands an interpretive approach beyond art history’s customary biographical, stylistic, and thematic methodologies.
Cassidy, sensitive to the psychological and gender analysis traditionally central to interpretations of Hartley, becomes the first scholar to reassess his late work in light of contemporary American perceptions of race, ethnicity, place, and history. This remarkable new book resonates not only as a seminal Hartley study and a complex art and cultural period history, but as a superb example of applied early twentieth-century American intellectual history informed by an impressive command of primary and secondary interdisciplinary literature. Numerous and rich illustrations, as well as transcriptions of several key essays by Hartley, some never before published, including “This Country of Maine” (1937–38), round out this insightful, nuanced, and revolutionary treatment. Donna M. Cassidy’s Marsden Hartley will engage general readers as well as scholars and students.