John Marin (American, 1870–1953)
Woolworth Building, No. 28, 1912
Watercolor and graphite on paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
The watercolors of Marin’s Woolworth Building series were among the most discussed and lampooned works by any American artist in the exhibition. They showed New York’s (and the world’s) tallest structure becoming more and more abstracted until, according to some critics, it looked like an earthquake or “the ultimate stages of vertigo.” Marin explained that:
I see great forces at work; great movements; the large buildings and the small buildings, the warring of the great and small.… Feelings are aroused which give me the desire to express the reaction of these “pull forces” .… while these powers are at work pushing, pulling, sideways, downward, upward, I can hear the sound of their strife and there is great music being played.