by Franklin Hill Perrell
Marsh's empathy is manifest in the intensity and concentration of his attention to the act of art making, labor intensive, seemingly non-judgmental, and apparently inseparable from other aspects of his life. His preoccupations of subject suggests a romanticism of the freedom, waywardness, and disconnectedness of the hoboes, or the reckless personal display of the dancers.
The themes of Marsh's art attracted him as a person. Art to him was not something outside his immediate experiences, theoretical, philosophical, or aesthetic, but became a pretext to immerse himself further in the life of the city around him, to justify, and substantiate as a constructive purpose, the very things that he would have wanted to do anyway. His great pleasure, clearly, was in looking and recording, "staring" as he said. The audience's empathy with his goals, and the fact that so many share his visual interests, either directly as nostalgia, or in a projected mode of imagination, underscores the attraction of his work. If Marsh was at one with the experience of his art, he also was with his city. What Marsh observes, however, arises out of the ethos of only one place, New York, and these venues and their habitues would not look the same anywhere else.
1. Goodrich, Lloyd, Reginald Marsh, New York: The Whitney Museum of American Art, 1955), p. 8.
2. Goodrich, Lloyd, Reginald Marsh, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972, p. 38.
3. Goodrich (1955), p. 10.
4. Goodrich (1972), p.44
5. Op cit.
6. Laning, Edward, "Through the Eyes of Marsh," Art News, September, 1955, pp.22-24
About the author:
The above essay was rekeyed and reprinted on February 16, 2006 in Resource Library with permission of the author and the Nassau County Museum of Art. The essay is included in a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Museum for the exhibition Reginald Marsh to be held at the Nassau County Museum of Art. February 19, 2006 - May 14, 2006. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, please contact the Nassau County Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:
Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Ms. Doris Meadows, Nassau County Museum of Art, for assistance concerning the republishing of this essay.
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