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 Malcolm Forbes McKesson  (1909 - 1999)

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Lived/Active: New York/New Jersey      Known for: outsider art, drawings

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AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Initiation Ceremony
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Malcolm McKesson (1909-1999)

He was born in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey at the summerhouse of his wealthy New York City family.  He completed the Grand Tour of Europe twice before turning eighteen, and these trips piqued his interest in art history, which he later studied at Harvard University.  His grandfather died in 1924 and his eldest brother in 1927.

McKesson graduated from Harvard University in 1933 and experienced another death in 1936, this time that of his beloved sister Mary.  He served as a second lieutenant during World War II, marrying poet Madeline Mason at Fort McClellan, Alabama in 1942.  Upon returning to New York, he began working in the family chemical company.  This he would do until 1961, when with Mason’s support he was able to retire from the business world and devote his life to his secret creation.  Other than his early retirement, the couple led a conventional middle-class life in New York City, summering in the Catskills and serving on the boards of a variety of community organizations; none of their friends could ever have guessed at McKesson’s other life.

Madeline Mason died in 1990.  Three years later, McKesson approached dealers at the New York Outsider Art Fair.  Although he did not necessarily think of himself as an outsider, based on the other work he had seen there, he felt that here was an audience that might appreciate him.

Sources include:
McKesson, Malcolm. (1997). Matriarchy: Freedom in Bondage. Heck Editions.
Rhodes, Colin. (2002). "Fulfillments of desire in the work of a self-taught artist: the intimate existence of Malcolm McKesson." Journal of the Association of Art Historians. 25 (5), 649-675.

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