Haunted: Marvin Cone’s Ghosts

  • Details

  • 10/09/19
  • 12 - 4 p.m.
  • $0 – $7
  • All Ages
  • Categories

  • Museum/Exhibit
  • Educational

Event Description

In the academic year of 1938-1939, Marvin Cone took a leave of absence from teaching at Coe College and secured a studio in the Granby Building in downtown Cedar Rapids. Funded by local businessmen, Cone received an uninterrupted “year of freedom,” as he termed it, to devote to his painting. In this newfound freedom, Cone departed from his beloved depiction of barns and the Iowa landscape and turned inward, literally. He began to focus on eerie, atmospheric building interiors, painted almost in monotone. Some of these interiors began to include images of ghosts, their bodies transparent but distinct against the background. Although common enough in children’s book illustration, Cone’s ghosts are highly unusual in “fine” art. Of these paintings, Cone said that he wanted to establish, “a lonesome and apprehensive atmosphere.” In addition to ghosts, Cone also experimented with adding gloomy portraits of “Uncle Ben” to the austere walls of his interior, or simply ominous titles that alluded to the room having just been vacated by an unknown presence.


After initially broaching the subject in the late 1930s, Cone returned to it several times, which was unusual for him. These interior spaces and their otherworldly inhabitants called him back through the 1950s and into the mid-1960s, near the end of his life. Haunted: Marvin Cone’s Ghosts is a celebration of this intriguing theme and its unusual and enigmatic presence in Cone’s artwork.