About Herman Maril

About Herman Maril

Fred Lazarus
Herman Maril (1908-1986) was a nationally known artist who painted seascapes, interiors, and landscapes in a pure, lyrical, and profound style. Beginning in his teens and throughout his life, he pursued his art single-mindedly.

"The sources of my work have been a response to nature and the world around me," Maril said. "I am interested in the language of paint, and my ideas must be expressed in terms of space concept on the plane of the canvas. I want my paintings to have an organic oneness, which should be the result of a constantly growing understanding and feeling for the lyricism possible in the plastic units of the picture struggle."

Maril, a native of Baltimore, received early training at the Maryland Institute, worked during the depression years on federal projects, and painted as opportunity presented itself during his World War 11 military service. After the war, he began a long association with the University of Maryland as a full professor in the art department.

From the 1930s through the 1980s he exhibited widely; was represented by galleries in Baltimore, New York, and Washington, D.C.; and received numerous prizes and awards.

"Herman Maril was an artist of extraordinary stature," said Lou Zona, director of the Butler Institute of American Art. "I underscore the description 'American' because Maril personifies the art of this country at mid-century, highly individualistic, expressive, and rich in social relevance.

"Maril represents the innovative spirit of an American painter who, while fighting the overwhelming influence of Picasso's cubism and various European expressionistic modes, pounded out an American vision inspired by the uniqueness of this culture. Our admiration for the talent of Herman Maril could not be greater, for in him we see the very best America has to offer."

Maril's art from the beginning showed a consistent development: it was nature-based, abstractly organized, and simplified in form and content. The noted artist and critic Olin Dows, wrote about the then 26-year-old artist, "Herman Maril's painting is reserved, and, like most good painting, it is simple. He is interested in the essentials. Each picture has its core; each is beautifully conceived and organized. It is clothed in a certain poetry."

The late Howard Wooden, former director of the Wichita Art Museum, observed that Dows warned of two dangers: the exaggeration of understatement and the neglect of detail. Wooden added, "The features proved to be among the most distinguishing qualities and the greatest strengths throughout Maril's career. In retrospect, it is evident that the charm and excitement of Maril's work have to no small degree rested on his consistent use of understatement and his intentional elimination of superficial incidentals."

After World War 11, Herman Maril's very personal style, both restrained and daring continued to evolve. "In his later years, Maril's paintings became more effortless in appearance, broadly simpler, yet in detail more delicate and more balanced, and with color that is more functional in pattern as well as depth," said the late Charles Parkhurst, former deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Art.

While Cape Cod and Baltimore were where Maril did much of his work, he was also influenced by trips to Mexico, Europe, Spain, Portugal, California, New Mexico, Maine and the Adirondacks. It was, however, on Cape Cod that he received an early major break when he was discovered by the late Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., which currently owns 13 of Maril's works.

Maril was commissioned to paint murals in the post offices of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Alta Vista, Virginia. He also had a painting selected by Eleanor Roosevelt to hang in the White House and was included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Carnegie Institute. In 1967, the Baltimore Museum of Art published a monograph book, entitled Herman Maril, in conjunction with a solo exhibition of his works. The Institute of Arts and Letters honored him in 1978.

“Throughout his entire career, Maril painted space and always with the unique artist's sense of joy ... for his subject and his art,” said Sheldon Hurst, curator of the William Bronk collection at Adirondack Community College.

"His rather quiet, yet richly lyrical color and his always well-composed compositions have great lasting quality" said the late Adelyn Breeskin, former director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Art historian David A. Scott, former director of the National Collection of Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., said of Maril: "His early experiment with cubist devices gave him the ability to deal with landscape forms selectively and analytically. Building on this, after the war, he developed an increasingly personal style, expressed in direct, vigorous ink drawings and arrestingly simple, evocative oils.

"Simplicity is deceptive. The process of simplifying-a thoughtful and intuitive elimination of detail is important. Starting in his later painting with a motif in nature that moved him, Maril broadened the statement, simplified space and form and reconciled them to the picture plane, eliminated distracting elements and tensions, and achieved a harmony that focuses and enhances pictorial energy. The result, in his most successful work, conveys a deep sense of peace and harmony," Scott said.

Since 1930, Maril's work has been featured in over 50 solo exhibitions at galleries and museums around the country. Maril's work is included in over 100 museums.

Today, Maril's work is represented by Debra Force Fine Art, 13 East 69th Street, Suite 4F, New York, NY 10021 (212-734-3636). His work can also be seen at the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida.

In 1983, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) established a permanent Herman Maril Gallery to showcase his works. The gallery is located in the UMUC Inn and Conference Center in Adelphi, Maryland, and is open to the public. In 2007 the student gallery at University of Maryland at College Park, where he taught for three decades, was named after him.
Fred Lazarus

Herman Maril (1908-1986) was a nationally known artist who painted seascapes, interiors, and landscapes in a pure, lyrical, and profound style. Beginning in his teens and throughout his life, he pursued his art single-mindedly.

"The sources of my work have been a response to nature and the world around me," Maril said. "I am interested in the language of paint, and my ideas must be expressed in terms of space concept on the plane of the canvas. I want my paintings to have an organic oneness, which should be the result of a constantly growing understanding and feeling for the lyricism possible in the plastic units of the picture struggle."

Maril, a native of Baltimore, received early training at the Maryland Institute, worked during the depression years on federal projects, and painted as opportunity presented itself during his World War 11 military service. After the war, he began a long association with the University of Maryland as a full professor in the art department.

From the 1930s through the 1980s he exhibited widely; was represented by galleries in Baltimore, New York, and Washington, D.C.; and received numerous prizes and awards.

"Herman Maril was an artist of extraordinary stature," said Lou Zona, director of the Butler Institute of American Art. "I underscore the description 'American' because Maril personifies the art of this country at mid-century, highly individualistic, expressive, and rich in social relevance.

"Maril represents the innovative spirit of an American painter who, while fighting the overwhelming influence of Picasso's cubism and various European expressionistic modes, pounded out an American vision inspired by the uniqueness of this culture. Our admiration for the talent of Herman Maril could not be greater, for in him we see the very best America has to offer."

Maril's art from the beginning showed a consistent development: it was nature-based, abstractly organized, and simplified in form and content. The noted artist and critic Olin Dows, wrote about the then 26-year-old artist, "Herman Maril's painting is reserved, and, like most good painting, it is simple. He is interested in the essentials. Each picture has its core; each is beautifully conceived and organized. It is clothed in a certain poetry."

The late Howard Wooden, former director of the Wichita Art Museum, observed that Dows warned of two dangers: the exaggeration of understatement and the neglect of detail. Wooden added, "The features proved to be among the most distinguishing qualities and the greatest strengths throughout Maril's career. In retrospect, it is evident that the charm and excitement of Maril's work have to no small degree rested on his consistent use of understatement and his intentional elimination of superficial incidentals."

After World War 11, Herman Maril's very personal style, both restrained and daring continued to evolve. "In his later years, Maril's paintings became more effortless in appearance, broadly simpler, yet in detail more delicate and more balanced, and with color that is more functional in pattern as well as depth," said the late Charles Parkhurst, former deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Art.

While Cape Cod and Baltimore were where Maril did much of his work, he was also influenced by trips to Mexico, Europe, Spain, Portugal, California, New Mexico, Maine and the Adirondacks. It was, however, on Cape Cod that he received an early major break when he was discovered by the late Duncan Phillips, founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., which currently owns 13 of Maril's works.

Maril was commissioned to paint murals in the post offices of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Alta Vista, Virginia. He also had a painting selected by Eleanor Roosevelt to hang in the White House and was included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Carnegie Institute. In 1967, the Baltimore Museum of Art published a monograph book, entitled Herman Maril, in conjunction with a solo exhibition of his works. The Institute of Arts and Letters honored him in 1978.

“Throughout his entire career, Maril painted space and always with the unique artist's sense of joy ... for his subject and his art,” said Sheldon Hurst, curator of the William Bronk collection at Adirondack Community College.

"His rather quiet, yet richly lyrical color and his always well-composed compositions have great lasting quality" said the late Adelyn Breeskin, former director of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Art historian David A. Scott, former director of the National Collection of Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., said of Maril: "His early experiment with cubist devices gave him the ability to deal with landscape forms selectively and analytically. Building on this, after the war, he developed an increasingly personal style, expressed in direct, vigorous ink drawings and arrestingly simple, evocative oils.

"Simplicity is deceptive. The process of simplifying-a thoughtful and intuitive elimination of detail is important. Starting in his later painting with a motif in nature that moved him, Maril broadened the statement, simplified space and form and reconciled them to the picture plane, eliminated distracting elements and tensions, and achieved a harmony that focuses and enhances pictorial energy. The result, in his most successful work, conveys a deep sense of peace and harmony," Scott said.

Since 1930, Maril's work has been featured in over 50 solo exhibitions at galleries and museums around the country. Maril's work is included in over 100 museums.

Today, Maril's work is represented by Debra Force Fine Art, 13 East 69th Street, Suite 4F, New York, NY 10021 (212-734-3636). His work can also be seen at the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida.

In 1983, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) established a permanent Herman Maril Gallery to showcase his works. The gallery is located in the UMUC Inn and Conference Center in Adelphi, Maryland, and is open to the public. In 2007 the student gallery at University of Maryland at College Park, where he taught for three decades, was named after him.