De Zayas Marius


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Caricaturist, illustrator, and art dealer. In abstract caricatures produced between 1913 and about 1916 and in writings for Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work, he anticipated New York dada's nihilism, wacky humor, and fascination with machines as metaphors for human beings. Born in Veracruz, Mexico, de Zayas studied art in Europe and worked as a newspaper caricaturist in Mexico before moving to New York in 1907. Continuing to work for the press, he soon met Stieglitz, who showed his caricatures at the 291 gallery in 1909, 1910, and 1913. In the final show, de Zayas introduced abstract portraiture, in which lines, geometric forms, and mathematical formulas represent individuals' personalities. Between 1911 and 1914 he contributed several provocative articles to Camera Work. In 1915 de Zayas led a cautious movement to reinvigorate the spirit that Stieglitz had fostered at 291. With Stieglitz's blessing and the help of a few other 291 supporters, in that year he started a monthly magazine called 291 and opened the Modern Gallery, intended to be a more commercially oriented extension of the 291 gallery. Perhaps inevitably, given his uncompromising temperament, Stieglitz's cooperation soon diminished. At the same time, de Zayas grew closer to the group that gathered at Walter Arensberg's apartment. He also renewed a friendship with French visitor Francis Picabia and forged ties with other dada-oriented artists in Europe. Early in 1916, the magazine folded at the end of its first year. The Modern Gallery survived until 1918. The gallery de Zayas opened the next year under his own name closed in 1921. After that, he no longer played a significant role in the New York art world. He died in Greenwich, Connecticut. De Zayas published A Study of the Modern Evolution of Plastic Form (with Paul Haviland, 1913) and African Negro Art: Its Influence on Modern Art (1916). Assembled in the late 1940s, How, When, and Why Modern Art Came to New York, edited by Francis Naumann, appeared posthumously in 1996.

Subjects: Art.

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