Marsden Hartley
Calla Lilies, 1929
Oil on board
23 ½ x 19 ¼ inches
Private Collection

The Heart of the Matter: The Still Lifes of Marsden Hartley

April 30 – May 31, 2003

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is today considered by many to be the preeminent American Modernist painter. To quote Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker reviewing the Hartley retrospective at the Wadsworth Atheneum, "Hartley's best art…looms so far above the works of such celebrated contemporaries as Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove and John Marin that it poses the question of how his achievement was even possible."

Berry-Hill Galleries is pleased to announce our forthcoming exhibition, The Heart of the Matter: The Still Lifes of Marsden Hartley, the first exhibition solely devoted to this major American artist's still life paintings, bringing together key works that have not been included in recent exhibitions. The Heart of the Matter is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly publication by Bruce Weber, Director of Research and Exhibitions at Berry-Hill.

The exhibition consists of approximately 60 works, some of which are well known examples on loan from museums, and others newly-discovered treasures that have been lost to sight for decades. Hartley continually shifted his approach to still life over a period of more than three decades, always exploring new directions with vigor and intelligence, transforming his influences, and consistently avoiding a comfortable and repetitive mode. Born in Maine, to which he ultimately returned, he was a true pioneer—not only an artist but a writer and poet who, incessantly traveled to and from Paris, Berlin, Bermuda, New York, Mexico and Maine. The still life never ceased to be a learning experience for Hartley. It was never about life stilled or frozen in time, but was always an evocation of the tension between solidity and evanescence, and vitality and impermanence, which, of course, is the essence of life.