When Isaac Edward Cecil De Hirsh DeTannerier Gilmont Margules died in 1965, The “New York Times” noted his important role in the city’s aesthetic milieu and reported “he had such a spirit of youth and creativity a rare and wise and unusual man “. He was described as “the man who knew everyone ” and indeed, in the course of an exuberant artistic career, Margules reveled in his durable friendships with Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson who showed his work at the offices of The Little Review as early as 1922 , with E Weyhe who also showed his works in the 1920’s, with Bernice Abbott and Walter Lowenfels whom he met in Paris in 1926 and with the likes of Alfred Stieglitz, Stuart Davies, Buckminster Fuller and Jan Matulka all of whom he knew before 1930.
Born in Jassy, Rumania in 1899, he was brought to America while still an infant. By age eleven he had won an award in the Wanamaker Children’s Art Contest. He studied briefly with Edwin Randby in Pittsburgh (1917-1918) before returning to New York where, with further encouragement from Myron Lechay, he embarked on a career that would lead to more than thirty one-person shows, constant exposure at the Whitney Annuals (1938-1956), and the acquisition of his work by nearly twenty museums including the Birobidjian Collection in Russia, Tel Aviv Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
By 1943 he had won a Brooklyn Museum Purchase Prize, and his work was consistently the focus of attention in the New York art press. Elaine de Kooning wrote a lengthy consideration of his working methods for the December 1951 edition of “ARTnews”.
Alfred Stieglitz and Margules met in 1929 and quickly became friends. They carried on a twelve-year correspondence and Margules asserted, “Stieglitz was to me what Socrates was to his friends.” Stieglitz introduced Marin and Margules in 1929 and thereafter a lasting friendship ensued. It was in John Marin that Margules found his artistic mentor and academy. “Marin was the only person Margules ever knew who could answer his questions about color, space, form, line movement; and it was from Marin he learned that what seems to come out of mysticism and wonder is rooted in knowledge and study and technique.” Marin himself recognized in Margules “an art lover with abounding faith and sincerity, with much intelligence and quick seeing “.
Michael St. Clair
Babcock Galleries, 724 Fifth Avenue, New York . June 1994