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The influence of Cubist decomposition can be clearly appreciated in Lower Manhattan, a watercolour dated 1923 and, like many other of Marin’s works, devoted to New York city. Marin shows a view of the lower part of the city and attempts to transmit its energy and chaos. The ever growing metropolis began to be a source of inspiration for painters, photographers and writers like Walt Whitman, whose poetic vision of New York as a confluence of energies greatly influenced the early American avant-gardists.
The artist combines Cubist fragmentation with the Italian Futurists’ views of the seething metropolis, aided by the watercolour medium that enables him to translate his impressions rapidly. Marin published an explanatory note in the catalogue of his exhibition held at the 291 gallery in 1913, admitting that, like the Italian Futurists, he was interested in depicting not what could be seen in the city but its inner forces: “I see great forces at work; great movements; the large buildings and the small buildings; the warring of the great and small; influences of one mass on another greater or smaller mass. Feelings are aroused which gives me the desire to express the reaction of these ‘pull forces.’”He went on to explain that “while these powers are at work pushing, pulling, sideways, downwards, upwards, I can hear the sound of their strife and there is great music being played. And so I try to express graphically what a great city is doing.”