This oil pastel drawing was created through a labor-intensive process. The artist uses extravagantly discordant hues to translate into color a formal-yet-enigmatic graphite composition he made from arranging and flipping grainy newspaper photos.
Signed and dated
Image size is 23.75 x 34.5 in.

① Artwork:

Sin City

The 1980s represent a crucial period of development in Marcus’ practice. In this decade, the artist began combining grainy, black-and-white photographs from multiple newspapers to create a composite image. He would frequently flip these images upside down to construct enigmatic compositions that evoke vertigo. Through an intensive translation process, Marcus developed a distinctive means of transforming these constructed images made from found photographs. The artist would map out the composition in graphite, using erasures to remove information and exaggerate tonal contrasts. Separately, he would explore formal color relationships in oil pastel to establish a palette of extravagantly discordant hues—exploding the tonal range into contrasting temperature-based relationships. Marcus would then create a rigorous translation of the graphite drawing into a full-color oil pastel drawing. This piece is an example of this method. The artist's work is an unlikely pairing of high-keyed color and a labor-intensive technical process. According to art historian Francesca Wilmott, the artist has a "singular ability to hold formalism and postmodern irreverence in tension."


34.5 inches
23.75 inches

③ Artist:

Irving Marcus

In his figurative paintings and drawings, Irving Marcus often depicts subjects drawn directly from newspaper headlines—a practice he began in the early 1960s. He dramatically combines, flips and rearranges source images into rigorous formal compositions that are deeply incompatible with their origins. Marcus’ wildly delirious work combines formalism with irreverence in ecstatic and kaleidoscopic hues.


Irving Marcus (b. 1929 in Minneapolis, Minnesota; d. 2021 in Sacramento, California) was among the first artists approached by Adeliza McHugh to exhibit at her now legendary Candy Store Gallery in Folsom, California. Marcus had five solo exhibitions at Candy Store Gallery between 1965–1976. His work is included in the Candy Store Gallery exhibitions at the Crocker Art Museum at California State University (2022), Sacramento and the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis in California (2022). 

Group exhibitions showing his work include: The Candy Store at Parker Gallery in Los Angeles, California (2018); and Kinder, Gentler Nation at Karma Gallery in New York City (2018). 

Marcus’ work was the subject of a retrospective exhibition and catalogue at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Davis, CA in 2018. Parker Gallery presented its first solo exhibition with the artist the following year.

Marcus’ work is held in numerous public collections, including: the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio; American River College in Sacramento, California; the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas; the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California; the De Young Museum in San Francisco, California; the Minneapolis Institute Of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the New Britain Museum Of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut; the Oakland Art Museum in Oakland, California; Reed College in Portland, Oregon; the San Jose Museum Of Art in San Jose, California; and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.

Irving Marcus:
Sin City, 1989
Oil pastel on paper
23.8 × 34.5 inches /