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Richard Merkin, Mixed Media, 1965

Documentation Signed
Origin United States, New York
Period 1950-1979
Materials Mixed media
Dimensions
W. 33 in; H. 51 in; D. 1 in;
W. 83.82 cm; H. 129.54 cm; D. 2.54 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1965
Description Title: Bulldog Drummond and the Great Coca-Cola Muystery
Medium: Mixed media
Date: 1965


Richard Marshall Merkin (1938 – 2009) was an American painter, illustrator and arts educator. Merkin's fascination with the 1920s and 1930s defined his art and shaped his identity as a professional dandy. Many of Merkin's works depict the interwar years, painting narrative scenes in bright colors of jazz musicians, film stars, writers, and sports heroes. Merkin was as well known for his painting and illustration work as he was for his eccentric collecting habits and his outré fashion sense.

Merkin was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938, and held an undergraduate degree in fine art from Syracuse University in 1960, a Master's Degree in art from Michigan State University in 1961, and a master's degree in Painting (MFA) from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1963. In 1962–63 he received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in Painting and, in 1975, The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from The National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Merkin began teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1963 and remained there for 42 years, during which time he built his reputation in New York. He commuted every week to RISD to teach painting and drawing, after he moved back to New York in 1967. At RISD, Merkin was loved and revered. One RISD alum described him as "fearless beyond measure." Some notable students Merkin taught at RISD include Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the band Talking Heads and Martin Mull.

Richard Merkin embodied RISD. He was regularly seen on campus wearing his trademark scarf and ballet slippers. In 1974, when the film The Great Gatsby was being filmed in Newport, Merkin appeared as an extra in one of the lawn party scenes.

Merkin had been a contributing editor for Vanity Fair since 1986 and a regular contributor of illustrations to The New Yorker since 1988, as well as Harper's and The New York Times' Sunday Magazine. From 1988–1991, he wrote a monthly style column called "Merkin on Style" for Gentlemen's Quarterly. In 1986, Merkin told The Daily News Record, a fashion publication: "Dressing, like painting, should have a residual stability, plus punctuation and surprise ... Somewhere, like in Krazy Kat, you've got to throw the brick."

Merkin also designed several album covers for the Jazz record label Chiaroscuro Records for artists such as Mary Lou Williams, Ruby Braff, and Ellis Larkins.
Styles / Movements Pop Art
Incollect Reference Number 362109
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