|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Marvin Cone 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. |
World War I interrupted his studies,
and after being stationed near New Mexico, Cone left for France in
1917, where he served for several years as an interpreter. In
1919, Cone studied for about five months at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in
Montpellier, France. When he returned to Cedar Rapids that year,
he continued to pursue his interest in art. He considered
commercial art, but chose instead to accept a position teaching French
at Coe College for the 1919-1920 academic year.
Rapids, Cone quickly renewed his friendship with Grant Wood and resumed
his active involvement with the local Art Association (now the Cedar
Rapids Museum of Art). Cone and Wood went abroad in the summer of
1920, hoping to improve their technical skills. The visit proved
influential, resulting in a stunning series of impressionistic views of
picturesque cityscapes and landscapes, Paris streets and gardens, and
the French countryside. Architecture and landscape fascinated
Cone for the rest of his life. He returned to Paris with his wife
Winnifred in 1929 and traveled to Mexico in 1939.
City area near Anamosa, Iowa provided the setting for many of Cones
best paintings in these years. In the summers of 1932 and 1933,
Marvin Cone and Grant Wood were an active force in the Stone City Art
Colony, which brought together a group of regionalist painters.
Unfortunately, the Depression caused the colony to close after only two
summers. Cone was then appointed professor of painting at Coe
College, where he continued to teach until 1960.
He lived all
his 74 years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he married, raised a family,
and for more than four decades taught art at Coe College.
Although he never achieved great fame, he was highly respected by his
contemporaries. As conventional as his life may seem, he was a
passionate artist who had a rare sensitivity to his environment.
Cone sought to evoke his inner vision of nature rather than to create a
realistic depiction of the rural landscape. To Cone, nature was a
vehicle for revealing certain truths. His paintings integrated
his firsthand observation of nature. He once said, "The purpose
of art is not to reproduce life, but to present an editorial, a comment
on life.... The artist does not set out to imitate nature. What
would be the purpose of that? Let the camera with its clever
mechanism imitate. Art, such as poetry, music, and painting, is
simply a portion of the experience of the artist. When we actually see
ideals, they become real to us. Art traces an abstraction and makes it
audible or visual. It symbolizes the whole of life. We believe in
something we can see."
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