8. Woolworth Building, New York Telephone Building and more by John Marin

Woolworth Building by John Marin. Images from Wikimedia Commons (left, right)

Although born in Rutherford, New Jersey, just a few miles from New York, John Marin (1870-1953) did not arrive on the city’s art scene until he was in his early 40s. After working as an architectural draftsman, studying art in Philadelphia, and spending several years in Paris, he made a breakthrough thanks to art gallery owner Joseph Stieglitz who displayed and promoted Marin’s work.

“From the Window of “291,” Looking Down Fifth Avenue” (1911) by John Marin. Via Wikimedia Commons

In New York, Marin found a muse in the city’s skyscrapers, which suited his unique style that has been variously described as post-Impressionistic, a hybrid of Impressionist, Cubist, and Expressionist, and early Modernist. Although his fame has ebbed since his death, he was considered a major artist of his time. “Marin is a visionary,” wrote art critic A.E. Gallatin in 1922, “his work always so beautifully organized and so superb in design, is full of mystery.”

One of Marin’s most renowned works, displayed here, “From the Window of “291,” Looking Down Fifth Avenue,” shows a view from 291 Fifth Avenue, home to Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery. Other skyscraper subjects included the New York Telephone Building, a “wedding cake” style building with a massing that lent itself to his Cubist influenced approach.

Advertisement in the The Architectural Record, August 1913

Marin’s skyscraper work was even displayed in advertisements for building paints, though his work was dismissively referred to as “an odious jumble of color.”