Pianist and author Bruce Levingston in front of Marie Hull's Pink Lady. Photo by Rick Guy

Pianist and author Bruce Levingston in front of Marie Hull's Pink Lady. Photo by Rick Guy

Bright Fields

The Mastery of Marie Hull

By Bruce Levingston
Foreword by Michaela Merryday
Contributions by Mary Garrard, Phillip Jackson, Jon Levingston

by Bruce Levingston

Bright Fields is a comprehensive and deeply intimate exploration of the life and work of the Mississippi- born artist Marie Hull (1890–1980). Her paintings reflect a nine-decade journey of search, thought, and growth. She produced some of the most memorable and iconic works ever created by a southern artist. This elegant and exquisitely detailed book contains over two hundred newly photographed reproductions of the artist’s finest works, many never before seen by the public.

Hull was born in a small town near Jackson at a time when women were not allowed to vote and were denied many career opportunities. This did not deter Hull from a constant “search for quality” both in her life and in her art. She studied with some of the most important artists of her day, including William Merritt Chase, in Philadelphia, New York, and Europe. She won major national competitions and awards and was exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious art exhibitions and shows in the United States, Europe, and the East Asia.

During the Depression, Hull created a series of paintings depicting African Americans and local sharecroppers that is considered one of the most significant contributions to regionalist art in the country’s history. These important, deeply moving works place her among the forefront of the great American portraitists. Three decades later, in her seventies, Hull would reveal her remarkable ability to evolve again, this time into one of the most significant abstract painters of the South. In her powerful, brilliantly colorful late works, she combines her mastery of landscape painting with a unique, persuasive synthesis of ideas from such artists as Rothko, de Kooning, and Hofmann.

Today, Hull’s works are exhibited in museums and prestigious private collections throughout the country. Bright Fields expands our knowledge of the painter’s remarkable life and work, illustrating why Hull’s unique vision and tremendous creativity had, and continues to have, such a profound impact on art in the South and beyond. 

Bruce Levingston, an acclaimed concert pianist, has given the art world a gift. The sincerity of Levingston’s presentation is an expression of something more than mere admiration. It is something permanently ingrained in his heritage as a southerner, a lover of art, and a member of a Mississippi community capable of such nurturing as to produce this daring and remarkable artist, Marie Hull, a woman strong in her roots who grew stronger with every year of her life.
— Milly West, The Clarion-Ledger
Bright Fields beautifully illuminates the vast contribution of Marie Hull to art in Mississippi. With a full biography, excellent illustrations, and cogent essays by four scholars, Bruce Levingston has brought together a tribute worthy of Marie Hull’s talent and passion, both for life and art.
— Patti Carr Black, author of Art in Mississippi, 1720-1980 and The Mississippi Story