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Joseph De Martini

Monhegan Cliffs

The remote island of Monhegan, Maine, features prominently in numerous tales of maritime disaster. Jagged cliffs known as the Headlands edge the coast, and hazardous rocks lie in wait farther out, making the island difficult to access even today. In the early part of the twentieth century, such artists as Edward Hopper, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent were drawn to Monhegan, inspired by the artistic precedent of Winslow Homer, whose heroic landscapes of the Maine coast often served as a metaphor for the American spirit.

In the case of the aptly titled Monhegan Cliffs, De Martini conjures the romance associated with this perilously rugged coastline. While the sea beyond remains calm, the emotionally rendered rocks and trees imply a living landscape with the capacity for violence. An aggressive black outline animates the cliffs and trees and emphasizes their razor-edged surfaces. Brooding tones of blue and gray imbue the scene with a sense of melancholy recalling the Maine landscapes of Marsden Hartley

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