Albert Pinkham Ryder by Marsden Hartley
It is the idea of Ryder that captures our imagination. He painted with such disregard for his materials that most of his works today exist only in a highly degraded condition. He was the ultimate romantic painter truly caring only about the act of painting, his vision and the immediate gratification the work brought him. He must have had some inkling, as he was pouring shiny gummy varnish mixtures over undried paint, that what he saw then would not last. Whenever he showed visitors a painting he would attempt to resurrect the deep translucent tones by pouring water over it, allowing a momentary glimpse, below the dull clouds, of a surface that use to radiate. Ryder was probably the only person ever to see the real beauty he had created. There is something deeply moving in seeing his bubbling cracking paint and knowing that all beauty ends in destruction. That so many artist today start with the impermanent as an end shows their disregard for the true existential struggles of the artist. You can't "make" Ryders you have to live them.