Marguerite Zorach (1887-1968)

Marguerite Zorach (1887-1968)

Born in Santa Rosa, California, in 1887, Marguerite Zorach was drawn to art at an early age and began her studies in Paris at the insistence of her aunt, artist Harriet Adelaide Harris, who lived there and whose connections enabled her young niece to associate with some of the most innovative minds of the day, including Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso. In Paris, Marguerite first enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière before shifting to the more progressive program at the Académie de La Palette from 1908 to 1911, where she would meet her husband, fellow student William Zorach. At La Palette, Marguerite came under the tutelage of the Post-Impressionist John Duncan Fergusson and she soon developed the Fauvist tendencies that became a common thread for her art throughout her career. Marguerite exhibited at the Salon d’Autumne and with the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris in 1911, and at the end of her studies, traveled with her aunt throughout the Middle East and Asia, with stays in Egypt, Palestine, India and later Japan, before returning home to California by the spring of 1912. 

Contact Vose about this artist
Read more about this artist...

Back in the States, Marguerite embarked on bringing the avant-garde concepts she had learned in France to an American audience, instilling dynamic compositional forms and intense color schemes in her work, with the grand vistas of Yosemite and natural beauty of the Sierra Mountains often serving as inspiration. After marrying William Zorach in December of 1912, the pair resided in an apartment in Greenwich Village, dubbed their ‘Post-Impressionistic Studio,’ but at Marguerite’s insistence they spent the warmer months in the country. She valued these breaks from city life and was able to sustain her connection to Nature through trips to Chappaqua, New York, Provincetown, Massachusetts, and eventually Georgetown, Maine, where they would establish a permanent summer home in 1923. Both Zorachs took part in the ground-breaking Armory Show of 1913, the first major exhibition on American soil to feature French modernist painters at the forefront of Cubism, Fauvism, and Symbolism. Despite the critics’ outspoken disdain for the show and the radical new philosophies it espoused, the sensational response caught the attention of serious collectors and the Zorachs and many of their brethren continued working in this vein, becoming pioneers for the modernist movement in America.

Following the birth of her two children in 1915 and 1917, Zorach found it difficult to devote as much time to her painting and began applying her creativity to textiles, producing tapestries and embroideries that retained her rich color palette and keen sense of design. In 1923, Montross Gallery in New York mounted one of her first solo exhibitions of wool tapestries to positive reviews and strong sales among New York’s influential families, and many of these unique pieces are now in the collections of major museums across the country. Zorach resumed her painting in the 1930s, and throughout her life remained an active exhibitor at a variety of New York venues, including Downtown Gallery and Kraushaar Galleries, in addition to showing with the Society of Independent Artists and becoming a founder of the Society of Women Artists in 1925. Nationally, she took part in exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, and created several murals for the Works Progress Association in the 1930s. Today, Zorach’s paintings and textiles can be found in a number of prominent museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts.

References: Falk, Who Was Who in American Art, 1999; Marguerite Zorach: The Early Years, 1908-1920 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1973); Partners in Modernist: The Art of Marguerite and William Zorach (NY: Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts, LLC, 2007). 

Request this artist