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Reginald Marsh was a keen observer of city life. At a time when so many avant-garde artists were turning to more abstract modes of expression, Marsh instead followed in the examples of John Sloan, George Bellows, Kenneth Hayes Miller and Edward Hopper. He chose the figure as his focus and the gritty subcultures of New York City as his setting. Largely, he was often strictly an observer, a viewpoint which gives his work its voyeuristic nature, the lack of obvious commentary in turn invites his audiences to draw their own conclusions. Building his compositions from a series of dynamic lines, Marsh created teeming scenes of restless energy. He loved the crowds, noise and bustle of the buzzing city and so was drawn to such places as Coney Island, the Bowery, burlesque shows and the theaters.
Tragically, the artist who so loved to capture the expressions of life, died prematurely of a heart attack in 1954 at the age of fifty-six. Since his intaglio plates themselves had the ability to yield more impressions, and it was Marsh’s desire to have the widest distribution possible, his widow Felicia Marsh authorized the Whitney Museum to produce a posthumous printing of a select set of her husband’s work. Choosing 30 plates, the Whitney worked with master printers Anderson and Lamb to print a limited run of 100 impressions of each. The Whitney Edition showcases a careful cross section of Marsh’s main interests and presents a record of those subjects which most moved him to be a passionate observer of the human experience.