An independent spirit, Marin developed his own unique pictorial language. Renaissance perspective was too restricted for Marin and cubism too scientific. He evolved a crystalline shorthand technique, which he used with great certainty to set down the spirit of the moment and with a surging vitality that seemed to deny its poetic derivation. He did not seek to convey geological or meteorological data; rather he summed up a state of primordial drama. His passages of sharp edges and linear violence created a feeling of scale and movement that identified the scene but reconstructed it in a new pictorial syntax. Despite Marin’s seemingly arbitrary distortion and spontaneously applied color, there was a rational pattern, which “always seemed to culminate in an equilibrium of forces both physical and psychological” (Van Deren Coke).
In 1929 and 1930 Marin accepted an invitation from Mable Dodge Luhan to spend the summer at her ranch near Taos. He had been urged to try his hand on this parched and rugged landscape by two of his friends in the Stieglitz circle, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. In all, he spent seven months there and created almost one hundred watercolors, painting outdoors or from his car when the weather was too hot. The Southwest enlarged his response to nature and provided him with his third great theme after the city (New York) and the sea (the Maine coast). The sheer scale of the country impressed and sometimes daunted him. In response, Marin painted some of his most freely expressionist watercolors of the plains and canyons and mountains of the Southwest.
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