Enigma, oil on canvas, 24 x 16 in., 1961

Currently on display, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Museum purchase, with gift of Winnifred Cone and Family, 83.2.2

Marvin Cone (1891-1965) was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, where in 1906 he began a lifelong friendship with Grant Wood.  He graduated from Coe College in 1914 and then studied for several years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  After serving in World War I, and then briefly studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montpellier, France, he returned to Cedar Rapids.  With the exception of a couple of trips abroad to improve his artistic skills and enjoy the French countryside, Cone spent the majority of his life in his hometown.  There, he taught art at Coe College for more than four decades, and although he never achieved great fame, he was highly respected by his contemporaries.

Marvin Cone's Doors, Stairs, and Abstracts

Cone began painting doors and stairs in the 1930s, and continued painting this subject through the 1940s and early 1950s.  These works seemed to lead directly to his abstract compositions of the 1950s and 1960s.  Once he reduced his compositions to their barest abstract qualities, Cone then sought the many different permutations that abstraction allowed.  In a way, Cone's abstractions satisfied his dictum that painting was not interested in depicting what the camera could already capture.  It was in his abstractions that Cone found new territory for his creative output.  Ever searching, he found, late in life, yet another arena to explore.   

Enigma is part of the Doors, Stairs, and Abstracts gallery in the exhibition, "Marvin Cone: An American Master."  This exhibition is on view at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art through January 20, 2013.  For hours and admission fees, please visit the Museum's website.

Text and image from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.  Image © Estate of Marvin Cone.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

This page was first displayed
on January 16, 2013

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