Marguerita Bornstein – an artist who has in the past been so well known that her first name sufficed to identify her to millions – is the kind of person whose need to create, and whose talent for it, causes her to work across a range of forms. Illustrator, animator, painter, sculptor, and mixed media artist, she has been lauded for drawings that have graced the covers of major magazines and for her contributions to post-modern art exhibitions. “One of the strongest and most sexual works in the show,” wrote a reviewer of 1997’s Sex/Industry (Stefan Stux Gallery, New York), “the mixed media work by Marguerita uses a metal box, an old gourd, and a coconut to create a piece more honestly sexual and arousing than most of the anatomically correct phalluses and cartoon animal jokes in the main gallery.” Alas, I can offer no pictures to match this intriguing description.
The child of Holocaust survivors, Marguerita was born in Sydney, Australia in 1950 but subsequently grew up in Brazil. She began her career as a commercial artist remarkably early, selling her first drawing at the age of nine (to Rio’s Correio da Manha), earning a living as an illustrator from age thirteen, and at 24 creating the animated title sequence for the phenomenally successful Brazilian drama O Rebu. Invited to work in New York in 1976 after being profiled in Graphis magazine, and sponsored into the United States by luminaries like NYT art director Louis Silverstein, art critic Robert Hughes, and preeminent graphic designers Herb Lubalin and Milton Glaser, Marguerita has since illustrated book covers for Viking, designed posters for The Village Voice, and contributed covers and drawings for The Nation, The New York Times, and other publications.
Marguerita’s recent work covers both the commercial and the fine arts. Considered as a whole, her pictures are vividly coloured, a fascinating combination of surrealism, ghostly overlaps, and iconography. “Her quality is rather sheer mischievousness coupled with a good measure of sparkling gaiety,” said U&Lc Magazine in 1977, and this seems as true today as it was then. One might add that a certain enigmatic wit seems to play an equally large role in her work, if the t-shirt below is anything to go by (which you can procure, if you’re taken by it, here):
You’ll find Marguerita’s site, The Poignant Frog, on our blog roll. Go visit.