A number of outstanding 20th-century landscape drawings and paintings are currently on view at the Arkansas Arts Center, in Little Rock. The exhibition “Herman Maril: The Strong Forms of Our Experience” gathers together nearly 90 works by the noted Mid-Atlantic artist. On view through April 16, it is Drawing magazine’s exhibition of the month for March.
Maril (1908-1986) was an independent American original in an era of groups and movements like Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. His strongest stylistic affiliation was to such French modernists as Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, and Georges Braque. While the center of the American art world was in New York, Maril remained loyal to his home city of Baltimore. “Living in Baltimore offers a type of serenity to me, and at the same time it is not too far away from a few other places,” he once said.
Mexico, by Herman Maril, 1969, ink wash and watercolor with pencil. Nadja Maril Crilly Collection. All artwork this exhibition courtesy Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas.
The son of poor Lithuanian immigrants, Maril always dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art, the artist worked as a janitor to pay for a studio as he developed his Modernist style. His major break came in 1933 when Washington, DC collector and museum founder Duncan Phillips spotted the artist’s work. Maril was then chosen to participate in the Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal art programs, and his work was published and shown in Baltimore, Washington and New York. After serving in the Army during World War II, he taught studio art at the University of Maryland. He often traveled to the artists’ colony, Provincetown, on Cape Cod, where he befriended giants such as Milton Avery and Mark Rothko.
Baltimore Harbor, by Herman Maril, 1958, ink and brush with pencil. Herman Maril Foundation Collection.
The fishermen, docks, and beaches of the Cape were characteristic subjects in Maril’s work. Through these years, Maril developed his distinctive spare, lyrical style of American modernism. Boldly drawing in ink wash became a favorite medium for him. He created a unique body of work depicting his favorite places in Maryland, Massachusetts and abroad.
Below, you can enjoy a small sample of the work on display. For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org, and to stay up to date with the best exhibitions in the world of drawing, subscribe to Drawing magazine.
Huts in the Berkshires, by Herman Maril, 1935, gouache, ink, crayon and pencil on olive paper. Herman Maril Foundation Collection.
Blue Berrying, by Herman Maril, 1971, ink wash. Herman Maril Foundation Collection.
Bluff and Sea, by Herman Maril, 1981, watercolor with pencil. Herman Maril Foundation Collection.
White Moon and Sea, by Herman Maril, 1975, oil on linen. Justin Patrick Collection.
Interested in creating landscape drawings and paintings of your own? Take a peek at the following video tutorial, with Alain Picard sharing tips for drawing realistic landscapes. Much more art instruction can be found at artistsnetwork.tv.