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.
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