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John Marin

The Sea, Maine
1921
watercolor and charcoal
16 1/2 x 19 5/8 in., irregular
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase

In this dynamic composition, the rhythmic crashing of waves in the middle ground contrasts with the calmer, deep blue of the horizon as well as with the solid, curvilinear rock forms in the foreground. Marin's calligraphic lines suggest movement and energy rather than superficial appearances. He spent part of almost every year in Maine from 1914 until his death, and painted seascapes of its rugged coast throughout his career. He was less interested in portraying specific, recognizable sites than in conveying the forces of nature along the rocky, untamed Maine coast.