John Marin (1870–1953)

Brooklyn Bridge, on the Bridge, 1930

Watercolor on paper, 21 3/4 x 26 3/4 in. (55.2 x 67.9 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection. Image © Estate of John Marin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York., 1999.95

John Marin developed a distinctively modern watercolor style in the first decades of the twentieth century, producing bold, energetic depictions of New York City’s contemporary architecture. All the elements in Brooklyn Bridge, on the Bridge seem to vibrate with nervous energy, as if to convey the frenzy of the metropolis. At the center of the composition are the recognizable Gothic-style arches and granite piers of the span, while straight and zigzagging lines suggestive of parallel cables, iron railings, or river waves are scattered throughout. Nearly abstract, this work belongs to a period in Marin’s career when he developed a new sense of geometric structure by using fragmentation to create formal arrangements of line, plane, color, and shape. His rapid, explosive process seemingly confirmed the limits of representation and validated the contemporary artistic movements that influenced him.

Learn more about this watercolor on the Terra Foundation website.