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George Bellows and New York, 1900–1930

John Marin
American, 1870–1953

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower New York

1913
Etching and drypoint
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Lay American Art Fund and Frederick B. and Kate L. Shoemaker Fund, 2002.21

In this nearly abstract print, John Marin introduces line as a strong visual element and a fisheye perspective to bring lively emphasis to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Woolworth Building, two marvels of New York City’s ambitious growth during this period. Seeming to vibrate with energy, the bridge leans against the tension of its own cables, connecting Manhattan’s man-made skyline to the neighboring borough.

Despite being an old medium dating back to the Renaissance, etching’s adaptability to technical innovation encouraged its use by many 20th-century artists— Marin included—as a way of expressing the Modernist disruption of traditional forms. This etching was completed three years after the success of Marin’s first one man-show in Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 New York gallery and in the same year in which Marin, George Bellows, and John Sloan exhibited works in the Armory Show, a controversial exhibition of new art that introduced Cubism and other European Modern Art movements to America.