Friday, March 20, 2009

Albert Pinkham Ryder as Seen by Marsden Hartley

Here's Albert Pinkham Ryder as painted by Marsden Hartley. Hartley met Ryder in New York and as the rest of the country did at the time admired his work. Hartley described him as having ''brown eyes that then seemed blue, skating on the far thin ice of Labradorean visions.'' And further that ''visionaries are nearly always being summoned to the centers of revelation, and Ryder, being among the first citizens of the moon, became at once prince and serf of this exacting kingdom.''

The two paintings this week, Mother and Child and The Equestrian (Portrait of J. Alden Weir), show Ryder's use of language of color, form, and rhythmic movement. The Equestrian is thinly painted but still lets us see Ryder's talent for painting nonobjective shapes and relationships between shapes. When his paintings did include people they weren't articulated but became another shape in the painting. This was despite his having studied under the noted portrait artist William Edgar Marshall prior to taking classes at the National Academy of Design.

Neither of the paintings are dated as was typical of Ryder. Even though Ryder's creativity fell after the turn of the century, his fame grew -- he became one of the most sought after artists of the period. In addition to Marsden Hartley, Jackson Pollack also looked to Ryder as a major influence. Some of Pollock's work in the 1930's seem to be enriched by a brooding, almost mystical quality similar to Ryder's. Pollack once said, "The only American master who interests me is Ryder."

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