Back to full publication listing
Published by Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in association with The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Softcover, 181 pages, 87 bw, 6 colour, 7.5 x 9.5"
Publication Date: 1987
Secret of the truly flowering mind,
secret of the truly flowering spirit -
to live always on the edge - or near it.
Marsden Hartley, perhaps the most important North American modernist of the first half of the 20th century, wrote these words as part of a long elegiac prose poem entitled “Cleophas and His Own: A North Atlantic Tragedy.” The story was based on two periods he spent in 1935 and 1936 with the Mason family in the Lunenburg County fishing community of East Point Island. Hartley, then in his late ’50s, found there both an innocent, unrestrained love and the sense of home he had been seeking since his unhappy childhood in Maine. The impact of this rich experience lasted until his death in 1943, widening the scope of his mature work which included numerous portrayals of the Masons, of whom he wrote:
Five magnificent chapters out of an amazing, human book, these beautiful human beings, loving, tender, strong, courageous, dutiful, kind, so like the salt of the sea, the grit of the earth, the sheer face of the cliff –
Marsden Hartley and Nova Scotia brings together for the first time the paintings, drawings, poetry, letters and journal entries by Hartley from this period. Hartley’s renditions of the “simple piety and archaic beauty” of these fishermen, their isolated existence and dangerous occupation, bring new dimensions to the understanding of his art. The spirit behind his later work is most poignantly revealed in “Cleophas and His Own,” written in Nova Scotia in the fall of 1936, in which the artist expresses him immense grief at the tragic drowning of the Mason‘s sons. This material is supplemented by two critical essays: “Marsden Hartley’s Search for the Father(land)” by Ronald Paulson and “Cleophas and His Own: The Making of a Narrative” by Gail R Scott.