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Marius de Zayas

Mexican, 1880 - 1961

Zayas, Marius de

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Artist, exhibitor, and writer on modern art Marius de Zayas was born in Vera Cruz, Mexico. De Zayas came from a prosperous family, but they were exiled to New York in 1907 because of political trouble in connection with the Díaz regime. A liberal like his father, Rafael de Zayas y Enriquez [1848-1932], Marius began to draw caricatures for the New York Evening World after arriving in the States. He joined a literary group called the Vagabonds through which he met Theodore Dreiser. Linking himself with Picabia, Marcel Duchamp and Alfred Steiglitz, the founder of the 291 Gallery, de Zayas collaborated on the avant-garde periodical Camera Work. He had his own first exhibition at "291" January 4-15, 1909. Another exhibition entitled "Up and Down Fifth Avenue" opened on 26 April, 1910. He also helped to organize the first American Picasso exhibition which opened in April of 1911 at "291." In 1912 he married a Polish-American woman named Francesca Kravchyk. This year also marked a distinct change in his drawing style. His caricatures became more abstract and cubist in style, no doubt influenced by the modernists exhibiting at "291." In 1914, he did a series of geometric portraits at the "Soirées of Paris." De Zayas published texts on modern and African art in 1913 and 1916, respectively. From 1915 to 1916, he was co-founder and one of the principal animators of Stieglitz' review, 291, on which Picabia, Picasso, Braque, Savinio, Max Jacob, and many others collaborated. For a time he tried to be an art dealer but did not have much success. His Modern Art Gallery opened in October of 1916, as an extension of "291," showing avant-garde and African art as well as Mexican objects and photographs. It was not until 1918 when Marius garnered the patronage of Walter and Louise Arensberg that he found commercial profits; still, the gallery closed in 1919. De Zayas announced a "Dada conference without words," on Yankee humor, in 1917. In 1923, after arranging thematic exhibitions for the Whitney Studio and the Wildenstein Galleries, Marius sold the bulk of his personal collection and traveled to Paris. In 1925 he met Virginia Harrison Gross and had two children with her, Ana Virginia and Rodrigo. He purchased a fourteenth-century castle, the Château de Rivoirandre at Monestier de Clermont, south of Grenoble, in 1929. At this new residence, he raised chickens and pursued filmmaking, producing a series of films on Cubism, juyitsu, and horseback riding before his 1961 death. In 1943, de Zayas donated seven ancient sculptures to the Museo del Prado. Literature on the donation unaccountably describes him as a diplomat who served in the Middle East. De Zayas died in Stamford [Hyland writes that he died at Greenwich], Connecticut.

Artist Bibliography

Tormo y Monzo, Elias. Museo del Prado; catalogo de las esculteras I: la Sala de las Musas. Madrid, 1949: 58-59.
Garcia y Bellido, A. "La Escultura Clasica del 'Legado Zayas' en el Museo del Prado." Archivo Español de Arqueologia 25 (1952): 87-102.
Blanco, Antonio. Museo del Prado, catalogo de la escultura. Madrid, 1957: 8, 135-6.
Hyland, Douglas. "Agnes Ernst Meyer, Patron of American Modernism." The American Art Journal (Winter 1980): 64-81.
Hyland, Douglas. Marius de Zayas; Conjurer of Souls Exh. cat.. Lawrence, Kansas: Spencer Museum of Art, 1981.

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