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