b. New York, NY, 1928



Marcia Marcus (b. 1928, New York, NY) made figurative paintings, which were revolutionary in both style and subject matter.  She studied at the Cooper Union and the Art Students League in the 1950s. Through Cooper Union she became a friend of Jean Cohen and Alex Katz. In the late 1950s, at a time when abstraction dominated the art world in New York and beyond, Marcus turned to figuration.

Marcus participated in the avant-garde art world of downtown New York, showing her paintings and staging happenings at the Delancey Street Museum, which was founded and run by artists Red Grooms, Jay Milder, and Bob Thompson. In addition to her intimate involvement with this venue, Marcus showed her work throughout the 1950s and 60s at other now fabled galleries such as the Stable Gallery and March Gallery.  Through the 1960s and 70s she had solo exhibitions at Graham Gallery, ACA, Zabriskie, and Terry Dintenfass Gallery.

For many years, Marcus spent her summers in Provincetown living the dune shack owned by Jean Cohen.  There she was part of the influential Sun Gallery, where she had a solo exhibition in 1958. Time spent on Cape Cod allowed her to further develop her unique style.

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.

Marcus’s works are in several public collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Life Magazine, The Human Figure Returns, 1962