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Hide/Seek: "Painting No. 47, Berlin" by Marsden Hartley

Discussion by David C. Ward, co-curator of "Hide/Seek"and Historian at the National Portrait Gallery. Marsden Hartley spent his life and career in search of a style to express the restless, contradictory aspects of his character and personality. The one time when Hartley seemed to find peace was, ironically, just before World War I. He traveled to Germany, fell in love with a German officer named Karl von Freyburg, and became entranced with the country' s speed, efficiency, and vibrant colors. Reacting to Berlin and its culture--including German militarism, which he adored--Hartley developed an original style of abstraction that incorporated the signs and emblems of German life. In this memorial portrait, Hartley encodes his emotions through the use of von Freyburg's initials, age at death, iron cross, and other signs-in the process creating a one of the earliest abstractions in American art. "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" was on view at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, from October 30 through February 13, 2011. For more on the exhibit, visit the exhibit website at: . Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) Oil on canvas, 1914-15 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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