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Robert E. Marx [born 1925]


[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

Marx, Robert Ernst [born 1925]

“Janus and Goat”


etching / 112 of 250 / 12.5 inches by 8.5 inches

Emigrating to the United States from his native Germany in 1927 at age two, Marx’s work embodies the turbulence of those times and sees them mirrored in the disquiet of our own. One of the galleries that represent him expresses it best:

Robert E. Marx is part of a small group of important American figurative artists who comment on what it means to be human in an inhuman age. A kindred spirit with such great but often overlooked social protest artists like Leonard Baskin and Leon Golub, Marx’s work speaks only to those who wish to be challenged by an artist’s idea — those who seek an intense and enduring dialogue with works of art. One of America’s most important exponents of the north European expressionist tradition that goes back to Bosch, Grünewald, and Bruegel, Marx’s work explores the futility of trying to bring universal order or give conclusive meaning to the human condition.

Marx himself states: “The people I draw, paint and sculpt personify the human condition. They are also the people we see around us, every day.”

Marx continues his culturally-driven work today at age ninety-two.

Some of you over fifty will recall Ferdinand Roten Galleries and Lakeside Studio, two commercial art galleries that made the rounds of college campuses selling original art during the 1960s and ’70s. Today student Unions are visited by purveyors of cheap posters strewn on folding tables to decorate dorm room walls. Lakeside’s and Roten’s offerings, by contrast, were commissioned from living artists, from whom they purchased entire editions — often a hundred prints or more. Sold at rock bottom prices, even for the 60s, the prints were presented well and were often the beginning of a personal collection.

Their sales staff consisted of graduate students who drove an art-filled van across America, announcing by poster the day before their arrival. For four hours, morning or afternoon, a wide range of artistic styles could be acquired for as little as $5 or $10. They probably arrived in Agincourt from Drake University in Des Moines and pushed on the Morningside College in Sioux City. This print from Lakeside Studio became part of a small collection that has gradually been donated anonymously to the Community Collection.

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