During the first ten years of the twentieth century, Marsden Hartley began traveling around New England painting the countryside. He then traveled to Europe where he experimented with radical, avant-garde art, such as Cubism and Abstract Expressionism; however upon his return to the States and to New England, he abandoned his abstract work in favor of naturalist and “representational, if heroic, depictions of native subjects and communion with native landscapes.” Throughout his life, Hartley had a close personal and spiritual connection with the earth, which he emulated in his paintings.
Hartley spent much of his later life in Maine, making it his second home. The paintings he completed during these years focused greatly on the relationship between nature and man.Wood Lot, Maine Woods, painted in 1939, is an example from this period. The image is of a thick wood full of trees being chopped down to be used for lumber. The thick paint mimics the texture of the wood. Hartley’s limited palette of browns and greens puts emphasis on the raw wood in the foreground verses the lush dark green leaves used as the backdrop.