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March / April 2003

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UMaine Today Magazine

Lasting Impression

Vincent Hartgen
Vincent Hartgen in his studio, Orono, Maine, 1978

Photo by Jack Walas, courtesy of
Fogler Library Special Collections

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From the time Vincent Hartgen arrived at the University of Maine in 1946, he created a revolution by teaching and encouraging people to enjoy art, particularly modern art. To do that, he founded the Department of Art and the university's exhibition program, established and built an impressive permanent art collection, and painted and exhibited his own work.

In the classroom, Hartgen's teaching was legendary.

His students still remember how he helped them understand and love art, and how he changed their lives.

In addition to his seven-gallery exhibition program, he hung works from UMaine's permanent collection in offices and public spaces on campus so that people would feel the influences of art every day. He also established a statewide traveling exhibition program for schools in an effort to build awareness, even in very young children, of the many roles art plays in our lives.

In his own art, Hartgen investigated nature. He loved the complex process by which idea and feeling are turned into visual poetry. He drew constantly and painted in aquarelles. He developed a unique vision, supported by masterful technical facility that was based on representation of natural forms, but spoke expressively through the imaginatively abstract use of color, movement, varied mark-making and subtle tonal gradations. His love of this process never diminished. Some of his most recent works were on exhibit in Portland, Maine, at the time of his death, Nov. 27, 2002, at the age of 88.

"Lasting Impression" features a memorable person or event in UMaine history.


UMaine Today Magazine
Department of University Relations
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The University of Maine
, Orono, Maine 04469
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