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Photo credit: Raymond M. Sato

This summer's CCMoA digitization project dictated that our Registrar examine and document every artwork in the permanent collection, from sculptures to framed paintings to the unframed works on paper stored in flat files. It was in these flat files that we had the pleasure of rediscovering the works of Boris Margo - acquisitioned in 1988, but not yet exhibited at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. This exciting encounter was the inspiration for BORIS MARGO - A Ukrainian Sensibility.

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Boris Margo was born in Wolotschisk, Ukraine in 1902. He came to New York via Canada in 1930. Already well into his career as an artist, Margo first visited Provincetown in 1940 with his future wife, the artist Jan Gelb. He loved the natural environment and incorporating objects found on the beach into his artwork and into building and rebuilding his dwelling in the dunes. Margo returned to Provincetown each year, and died on the Cape in 1995 at the age of 92.

Margo’s long artistic career incorporates both innovation and continuity, creating new forms and techniques along with variations of existing ones. Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism are the two styles to which Margo’s art is most directly linked. His work was accepted into the most high-powered international venues that exhibited art in these movements. Other artists in the surrealist/abstract expressionism movements may have been more “famous”, but his innovative techniques, including the cellocut, are well known and considered the forerunner to the collograph and other high relief printmaking techniques. He readily shared his discoveries with other artists, teaching Milton Avery how to do monoprints - a process Avery continued to use throughout his career. Margo was an apprentice to the great surrealist painter Arshile Gorky, but it is thought that Gorky actually incorporated techniques from Margo’s earlier work into his own later work.

 

Boris Margo was a gifted teacher, who taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and many other prominent universities. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Brown University, Cincinnati Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University and many others. He has exhibited in the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery and other exhibitions throughout the world. 

 

Gallery Talk - Tuesday, November 15 

On November 15th, Boris Margo's nephew, Murray Zimiles, presented a gallery talk on the life and art of Margo. Zimiles also discussed his own exhibition War In Ukraine (on view at CCMoA November 15, 2022 - January 29, 2023).

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Radar Outpost, 1947, copper etching on paper

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From the Sea, n.d., cellocut on paper

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Little Wall, 1964, embossed cellocut on paper

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From Meteorites, circa. 1952, cellocut on paper (proof)