MARLOW MOSS British, 1889-1958

Overview

Born Marjorie Jewel Moss, Marlow Moss (b. 1889 Richmond - 1958 Penzance, UK), as she became, moved from London to Paris in 1927 enrolling at the Académie Moderne studying with Fernand Léger. Here she was part of the vibrant art scene, exhibiting regularly (Konstruktivisten, Basel 1937, and Abstracte Kunst, Amsterdam 1938) after being invited to join Abstraction-Création as a founder member along with Piet Mondrian, Georges Vantongerloo, and Jean Arp, amongst others. It was also here she met her lifelong partner, the Dutch writer Antoinette Hendrika Nijhoff-Wind.

 

Moss followed the concepts of De Stijl and Neoplasticism; the reduction to the essentials of form and composition through horizontal lines and primary colours, but it was Mondrian that influenced Moss the most profoundly. They became friends, exchanging Constructivist ideas and influencing each other; Mondrian and Gorin took up using her innovative ‘double line’ motif. The difference being that Mondrian constructed his compositions intuitively, while Moss constructed them using a mathematical approach.

 

Moss’ working drawings are precise, executed with pencil, ruler and compass. These drawings are edged with notes and calculations in pencil, often including collage before being transferred to the canvas. Tragically, much of her early art had been destroyed in the war soon after she fled France to Cornwall where she stayed for the rest of her life.

 

Her queer, androgynous persona, perhaps too modern for 1950s Britain, may be a factor why she wasn’t embraced by her St. Ives Group neighbours and for her later obscurity. However, her work is now being rediscovered; in 2014 Tate Britain held a solo exhibition of her work and in 2017 at the Haus Konstruktiv Zürich. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Israel Museum amongst others.

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