Note: N54 Marguerite Thompson Zorach (1887-1968) was born in Fresno, California. Her early education in art was derived primarily from copying chromolithographs and drawing from plaster casts of classical sculpture. (After she had become an established artist, she was asked, "How long have you been painting?" Zorach responded, "Since the age of three when I produced a goose that everyone knew was a goose.")
After enrolling at Stanford in 1908, she changed plans and traveled to Paris at the invitation of her aunt. Zorach intended to study in the academic tradition of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, after visiting exhibitions showing exciting new experiments taking place in art, she was influenced to study modern art movements instead. Her earliest work in Paris reflects the influence of Matisse and the Fauves. She met Picasso (who had just begun to define Cubism) as well as "a glittering array of intellectuals and creative people from the arts," who strengthened her commitment. At La Palette Art School she became acquainted with William Zorach, a young American artist from Cleveland who became her husband in 1912. Prior to her return, Zorach traveled around the world with her aunt.
Work made after her return reflected the natural beauty she found in the landscapes of her native California, rendered in the bold new methods of French Fauve modernism. Her painting style was described as "pure color applied with a rich impasto brushwork, with decorative rather than descriptive intent, and freedom to alter the reality of nature for aesthetic reasons."
In the years following their marriage, the Zorachs continued to paint in a similar modernist style until about 1920 when she began making tapestries and he concentrated on sculpture. (William Zorach's work in the Sheldon Gallery collection includes two sculptures: a bronze torso in the Sculpture Garden, a granite head and three works on paper; Marguerite is represented by the oil painting in this exhibition and two prints on paper.)
During Marguerite Zorach's study in Paris her work was shown in several important exhibitions. In this country she is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, Newark Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as other important museums and private collections. Late in her career she wrote, "Painting is my life. There have been periods when I was discovered with much publicity and newspaper articles, and periods when I have been forgotten . . ."
Archival files, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, UNL. Craven, Wayne, American Art, pp. 448-50, 460, WCB Madison, WI, 1994. Zorach, Tessim, "Marguerite Zorach--At Home and Abroad," Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 1984. Who's Who in American Art, p. 520, 1956. Kramer, Hilton, "Women of Different Generations."
© Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden. Last Modified: July 7, 1998.
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