Reginald Marsh Ephemera

Quotes about the artist and by the artist

"My pictures have too much shock in them for a lot of people - - especially women - - to hang on the walls at home. Not really shocking, just a kind of not-too-pleasant reminder of what they have shut out when they go home... They don't want to be reminded in their living rooms and bedrooms of the people they see - - or don't see - - walking on the streets of New York. Makes them feel uncomfortable."

"Reginald Marsh as I Remember Him," William Benton

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"Stare at Michelangelo casts. Go out into the street. stare at the people. Go into the subway. Stare at the people. Stare, stare, keep on staring. Go into your studio; stare at your pictures, yourself, everything."

Marsh's advice to his art students, as quoted by Marilyn Cohen in her book Reginald Marsh's New York, page 38.

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"As time went on, Marsh's intense competitiveness channeled itself into his artistic production, over which he maintained strict control. Never without a sketchbook, he drew and painted by day and kept track of the number of evenings he etched every month and the number of sketching trips he made to Coney Island.

Determined to excel in every medium—as an illustrator, cartoonist, painter, muralist, and printmaker—he produced an extraordinary quantity of work, some of poor quality because of his experimentation. He also wanted to be involved in all aspects of the art world. He served on the Art Students League board and eventually taught year-round, even though he was financially independent. His artistic activity, fueled by a desire for success, was also, as Marilyn Cohen has argued, driven by a need to prove himself "as a man."

A number of Marsh's friends, among them Raphael Soyer, suggested that his competitiveness contributed to his early death. Soyer, who depicted Marsh at work in the early 19405 with an etching plate in his hands, recalled that Marsh's "prodigious" energies made it impossible for him to pose unoccupied for what was to have been a more straightforward portrait. Laning, somewhat cynical himself about American cultural stereotypes of masculinity, characterized Marsh as the victim of the Hemingway syndrome:

'Like all the American boys, Marsh was overreaching himself. Like Fitzgerald, Pollock and Hemingway, he killed himself. Or something in our culture goaded him, and them, beyond human endurance, and we killed them. Miller always told us "know your limitations," but this is the lesson that the American Boy, even the most studious, never learns.'

According to Laning, Marsh's tough exterior was a facade for a vulnerable, shy, and gentle person who competed to win the approval of those on whom he was dependent."

From Ellen Wiley Todd's The "New Woman" Revised, University of California Press, 1993. Page 54

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"The social reality Marsh depicted was decidedly lower class - - at odds with his background, education, and economic position. In 1930 the artist was thirty-two years old. It was a year after the stock-market crash and he had taken a loss of ten thousand dollars, yet still managed to show earnings of over five thousand dollars from stocks alone. Two years earlier he had inherited some of his grandfather's money. In other words, Marsh was hardly starving during the Depression. Comfortavle all his life, often dressed in Brooks Brothers suits, he was worlds removed from the people he painted who traveled out to Coney Island on hot summer days. Yet he was fascinated and drawn to them. At one point he indicated that he felt the lower classes were more interesting to paint: 'well bred people are no fun to paint.'"

Marilyn Cohen, from her book Reginald Marsh's New York, page 14.

New Book on Marsh Coming - Oct 2012

Swing Time Reginald Marsh New York City

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: D Giles Ltd
Coming in October 2012.

Swing Time: Reginald Marsh and Thirties New York

By Barbara Haskell (Editor), Erika Doss, Barbara Haskell, Jackson Lears, Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, and Sasha Nicholas Morris Dickstein (Editor)

Available from

High Yaller Reginald Marsh

Reginald Marsh

Original Page 2003 | Last Update Sept 2012

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