Marcel Dzama

Canadian-American Artist; (1974-        )

 Marcel Dzama was born 1974 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been exhibited internationally, in particular his ink and watercolor drawings.

Dzama works extensively in sculpture, painting, collage, and film. The artist is also known for his intricate dioramas and large scale polyptychs that draw from his talents across a range of media. Dzama works in multiple disciplines to bring his cast of human figures, animals, and imaginary hybrids to life, and has developed an international reputation and followingfor his art that depicts fanciful, anachronistic worlds. The artist is also known for his work with The Royal Art Lodge. Dzama’s first book “Drawings from the Bernardi Collection” helped launch his career which gave him his first museum show at The Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario in 2003. 

Dzama’s work has been used on the covers of numerous record albums, notably The Else by They Might Be Giants, Guero by Beck and Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans. His costume designs can be seen in music videos for the Bob Dylan song, “When the Deal Goes Down,” the N.A.S.A. song, “The People Tree,” and the Department of Eagles song, “No One Does It Like You” which he also co-directed. McSweeney’s has published two collections of his work, The Berlin Years in 2003 (reprinted in 2006) and a follow-up, The Berliner Ensemble Thanks You All, in 2008. In 2010, composer Ed Bennett created “Dzama Stories,” a piece of music inspired by Marcel Dzama, featuring Decibel and Paul Dunmall. It is music for amplified ensemble, electronics and improviser.

Dzama has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (2010) and Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008). In 2006, he had an exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England, which traveled to the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow, Scotland.

Marcel Dzama cites Marcel Duchamp as one of his greatest inspirations and has drawn on the artist’s near-obsession with chess as a starting point for his video A Game of Chess, 2011, in which life-size Kings, Queens, Rooks and pawns duel for supremacy in a production brought to life in Guadalajara, Mexico. The film is included in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Over the past decade, his work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); Moby Dick at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2009); Sobey Art Award Short List at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (2009); Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities at The Museum of Modern Art New York (2008); In Me / Out of Me at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York and Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2007). In 2006, he was included in the Whitney Biennial exhibition, Down By Law: Day for Night at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In the late 1990s, Dzama participated in the group exhibitions Greetings from Winnipeg at the Minneapolis Co;;age of Art & Design, Minneapolis and Contemporary American Realist Drawings, the Jalane and Richard Davidson Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago (both 1999). In May 2016 at the Labs Gallery in Bologna was presented an exhibition of his works entitled “Masked Tales”, in which also exposed an Italian artist Vanni Cuoghi.

Dzama’s work is in the collections of major museums and public institutions, including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York; the Bass Museum of Art, Miami; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Dallas Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island. Collectors of his work include Spike Jonze, Francios Pinault, Bennett Miller, Kevin Hearn, Don and Mera Rubell, Brad Pitt, Roy Bernardi, Jim Carrey, Leonard Nimoy, Viggo Mortensen, Gus Van Sant, and Steve Martin.


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