The Return

The Return, oil on canvas, 21 1/2 x 25 1/2 in., 1932

Currently on display, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Museum purchase, Dorothy Houts Fund, 89.1.6

Marvin Cone (1891-1965) 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.  After serving in World War I, and then briefly studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montpellier, France, he returned to Cedar Rapids.  With the exception of a couple of trips abroad to improve his artistic skills and enjoy the French countryside, Cone spent the majority of his life in his hometown.  There, he taught art at Coe College for more than four decades, and although he never achieved great fame, he was highly respected by his contemporaries.


Throughout much of his career, Cone was fascinated by clouds and he demonstrated his awe of and reverence for cloud formations in many paintings and drawings.  In some of his works, clouds are so much the subject that those paintings are more correctly called "cloudscapes" than landscapes.  While some may think that Cone was taking liberties with the shapes and forms of the clouds he depicted, if one looks at Iowa's skies often enough and long enough, every cloud formation seen in his paintings and drawings can be found in the sky.  However, Cone was interested in going beyond mere description.  These works, as in all of Cone's works, sought to capture the underlying essence of what was seen—the spirit, the mood, the moment.

The Return is included in the exhibition, "Marvin Cone: An American Master."  It is part of the Cloudscapes gallery which features a dozen works from the 1910s to the 1940s and traces the many ways and styles Cone used to capture the ethereal and transitory qualities of clouds.  This exhibition is on view at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art through January 20, 2013.  For hours and admission fees, please visit the Museum's website.

Text and image from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.  Image © Estate of Marvin Cone.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

This page was first displayed
on January 14, 2013

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