Marcia Marcus (b. New York, NY, Jan. 11, 1928); American figurative painter of portraits, self portraits, still life, and landscape. Her work is owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Williams College Museum of Art, and the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College.

Born in New York City. She earned her BFA at New York University in 1949, followed by studies at Cooper Union in 1950–52 and with Edwin Dickinson at the Art Students League in 1954.

In 1963 and 1965 Marcus's work was included in the biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1962-63 she was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to France. She taught at many institutions, including Purdue University; Moore College of Art and Design; Rhode Island School of Design; Cooper Union; Louisiana State University; NY University; Vassar College; Cornell University; Iowa State University; and Northern Arizona University. Marcus performed the first "Happening" conceived and directed by a woman....

Although known for self portraits, Marcus painted portraits of many people associated with the arts including collectors, critics and fellow artists....

Marcus painted from life, but continued to work on paintings after the models’ sittings, thriving on the interplay between life, fiction, and embellishment. She used collage and gold and silver leaf, in addition to oil painting. Widely celebrated for her self portraits, Marcus also made group portraits, and complicated her presentation through innovative costuming, posing, and storytelling. Her aesthetic is distinguished by the use of silhouetted figures on open grounds – highlighting a relationship to photography, identity politics, the style of the time, and the performative nature of portraiture.
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Suzan Hamer


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