MARIL, HERMAN (1908–1986), U.S. painter. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Maril painted seascapes and landscapes, often of the Cape Cod area. He studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine Arts, participated in federal works projects during the Depression, and painted during his World War ii military service. He taught painting, drawing, and watercolor at the University of Maryland until his death, while exhibiting in galleries in New York, Washington, d.c., and Baltimore. He created lyrical works in oil, watercolor, and ink which referenced landscape, seascape, and sports subjects with various levels of modernist abstraction. Maril's careful, balanced compositions are characterized by rich, even sensuous color, large, simplified shapes and forms, and a flattened picture plane. The artist worked in the American Scene style in the 1930s but soon developed a personal idiom which incorporated the tenets of modernism: spare, broad swathes of color, emphasis on facture, flattened forms, and a purging of details. While working in the 1950s Maril never adopted an Abstract Expressionist style, but continued to develop his robust, individualized vision, indebted to the socially attuned work of such artists as Raphael Soyer, Ben Shahn, and Lyonel Feininger. His subjects range from Matisse-inspired goldfish in a bowl, to farmyards and skyscrapers. While working in New York in the 1930s, he met a number of other artists, including Soyer, Marsden Hartley, Mark Rothko, and Chaim Gross. In 1935, the art critic Olin Dows characterized Maril's abstract art as possessed of a personal style, despite his indebtedness to Picasso, Braque, and Mondrian, among other artists of the first quarter of the 20th century. While living in Cape Cod and Baltimore, Maril traveled to California, Mexico, Italy, and Spain. His acquaintance with Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, d.c., boosted the artist's success and visibility, garnering him exhibitions, wpa projects, including a post office mural in Scranton, Penn., and notice by Eleanor Roosevelt, who hung one of his paintings in the White House. With another nod to Matisse, Maril's work between the 1950s and his death prominently feature open windows and doors, which interweave exterior and interior on the surface of the work. The Phillips Collection owns 13 of Maril's works. Maryland University College in Adelphi, Md., has exhibited a permanent retrospective of Maril's work since 1986. Over 60 museums in the United States and Europe own examples of Maril's work, including the Baltimore Museum, the Cleveland Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Walters Art Museum.
W. Hauptman (ed.), Herman Maril: University of Maryland Art Department Gallery, College Park, Maryland, February 17–March 17, 1977 (1977); Herman Maril (1908–1986): Paintings and Works on Paper from the 1920s and 1930s: April 29 through June 4, 1999 (1999); H.E.Wooden, The Neglected Generation of American Realist Painters, 1930–1948: Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas, May 2 thru June 14, 1981 (1981).
[Nancy Buchwald (2nd ed.)]