|The following, submitted April 2005, is from Djelloul (Del) Marbrook,
son of the artist. Of signatures on paintings by her mother, she
writes that she first signed as Anita Rice, then as Juanita Rice,
Juanita Rice Marbrook, Juanita Marbrook, and finally Juanita Guccione
after marrying in the 1940s. |
Juanita Guccione's life (June
20, 1904-December 18, 1999) spanned all but four years of the 20th
Century. Cubist*, realist, surrealist*, automatist* and abstract
strains are all to be found in her work, but by 1970 she was painting
works in watercolor and acrylic that no longer included the human
figure or the observed world. She was the younger sister of the
abstract geometric* artist Irene Rice Pereira. The sisters were
born in Chelsea, MA, but spent most of their working lives in
In the early 1930s, Guccione, then painting as Nita
Rice, lived for four years among the Ouled Nail Bedouin tribe in
eastern Algeria. Her paintings from this period are devoid of the
flamboyant romanticism of the Orientalist* painters. She painted
the Bedouin as friends and neighbors, reflecting the anti-colonialist
attitude of her native land. These paintings were shown in The
Brooklyn Museum in 1935.
When she returned from Algeria in
1935 the United States was in economic free-fall. After the Brooklyn
Museum exhibit the Algerian work was shut away as she immersed herself
in an avant-garde then fomenting revolutionary artistic changes. Guccione
began painting as Anita Rice, changed her name to Juanita Rice, then to
Juanita Marbrook, and finally to Juanita Guccione after marrying
Dominick J. Guccione in the mid-1940s.
Guccione worked on Post
Office murals for the WPA* Federal Works Progress Administration during the
1930s. During World War II she came under the influence of the
refugee French surrealists. She studied with Hans Hofmann for seven
years. Hofmann expressed high regard for her work and gave her a number
of scholarships. Her mid-career surrealist paintings do not share the
literary interests of many of her European contemporaries. They portray
a magical and whimsical world ruled by women. Their brilliant palette,
though not their subject matter, reflects Hofmann's influence.
work was shown in Manhattan, Paris, Beirut, Bombay, San Francisco,
Washington, Provincetown, PalBeach, Pittsburgh, Miami, Algiers and
other Algerian cities.
She was unusually reclusive, and this
trait often thwarted enthusiasts attempting to promote and celebrate
her work. Her reclusiveness, her name changes, and the critics'
difficulty in characterizing her work deprived her of the recognition
she might otherwise have received.
Nonetheless, the respected
French novelist and critic Michel Georges-Michel wrote in the early
1950s that she was one of a very few American artists who interested
him, this at a time when abstract expressionism* was the rage and America
was establishing its claim to importance in taste-making.
her long career, the former Washington Post art critic Michael
Welzenbach wrote in 1992: "This kind of artistic evolution hardly fits
into the inimically popular contemporary trend of modifying one's style
to keep abreast of fashionable changes in the mainstream art world. And
it is precisely this single-minded approach to her work, this
willingness to follow its development wherever that might lead, that
locates Guccione squarely among the few but formidable ranks of the
modernist avant-garde--a group whose integrity and vision will not be
seen again in this century."
No one, probably not even
Guccione, reckoned how prolific and restless her career had been until
her works were collected after her death. Her reputation had come to
rest on the surrealist oils of her middle years, while the more
abstract and adventurous acrylic and watercolor work of her later years
was little known.
The extraordinarily reticent artist hinted
at her own view of her later work when she wrote to a purchaser that
she did not imagine the work, she saw it.
Guccione was a
respected teacher, perhaps because of her reticence. She was able to
impart ideas and techniques by guiding her students' hands and by
working alongside them, rather than lecturing them. She taught at the
Art Students League* and at Cooper Union*.
The large body of
work she left poses a special challenge to feminists because she
created in her middle years a peaceable otherworld ruled entirely by
women. Of feminists she was fond of remarking, "I'm not at all
interested in what they say, only in what they do."
writer and poet Anais Nin, whose portrait Guccione painted several
times, said of her work, "Our dreams are often diffuse and fragmented.
Juanita makes them cohesive and clear, as clear as the daily
world. Few people can paint the world of our dreams with as much
magic, precision, and clarity. It makes the myths by which we
live as vivid and dramatic as our diurnal life."
" Juanita Rice Marbrook, Forty Paintings," Alma Reed Galleries,
New York, NY
"Juanita Rice Marbrook," Bonestell Gallery. New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook," Bonestell Gallery, New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook," The Barnett-Aden Gallery, New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook," Mitchell Gallery, Woodstock, NY
"Twelve Romantic Paintings of Fantasy," The Little Studio Inc.,
New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook," The Little Studio, New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook Guccione," George Binet Gallery, New York, NY
"Juanita Marbrook Guccione," Taj Art Gallery, Bombay, India.
"Guccione," Gallery One, Beirut, Lebanon.
"Juanita Guccione," Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY
"Recent Paintings and Watercolors," Juanita Guccione, Colony
Arts Center, Woodstock, NY
"Juanita Guccione," Galerie Liliane Francois, Paris, France.
"De New York a la Casbah: Juanita Marbrouk Guccione,"
20 oils and 36 drawings, Algeria 1932-35; in Algiers, Oran,
Tizi, Ouzou, and other cities; sponsored by the Republic of
Algeria and the U.S. Information Agency; color catalogue
with essay by Mohamed Bentabet, Director, Musee Nationale
des Arts and Traditions Populaires, Algiers, published by the
museum and the Ministry of Culture.
"A Fond Eye: Portraits of Algeria by Juanita Guccione," Arts
Club of Washington D.C. and Embassy of Algeria, Washington, DC.
"Voyage's End - Surrealist Paintings by Juanita Guccione, 1930s -
1970s: Futuristic Visions of a World Ruled by Women."
Poughkeepsie Art Museum, Poughkeepsie, New York.
"Paintings by American Artists," 11 oil paintings executed
in Algeria, The Brooklyn Museum, NY
"The Docks, Bridges and Waterways of New York,"
International Arts Center, New York, NY
"American and Foreign Artists: Drawings, Pastels and
Watercolors," The Brooklyn Musem, NY
"This is Our War," Artists League of America at
Wildenstein & Co., New York, NY
Artists League of America, Third Annual Exhibition,
Riverside Museum, New York, NY
"Painting in the United States," Carnegie Institute,
"Painting in the United States," Carnegie Institute,
"The Horse in Art, From Primitive to Modern,"
The Gimbel Gallery of Art with The Carlebach
Galleries of New York, New York, NY
Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, FL
"Three Modernists," Miami Beach Art Center, FL
"Watercolor Exhibition, American Artists," The National
Arts Club, New York, NY
Critics1 Art Travelrama, an exhibition organized by
Paula Insel, New York, NY
Hotel New Yorker Fall Art Show, Coffee House Art
Gallery, New York, NY
"Transformations," The Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY
Vallombreuse Art Gallery, Palm Beach, FL
"Contemporary Circle," Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center for
the Performing Arts, New York, NY
La Galerie Mouffe, Paris.
Metropolitan Painters and Sculptors, Manufacturers
Hanover Trust Building, New York, NY
"46th Annual Exhibition," Metropolitan Painters
and Sculptors, New York, NY
"Juanita Guccione," oils and lithographs, Tate Gallery,
San Francisco, CA
"53rd Annual Exhibition," Metropolitan Painters
and Sculptors, New York, NY
The New York Times, "Brooklyn Museum Opens New Exhibit," June 30, 1934.
The New York Times, "In Modern Vein," January 11, 1942.
Art News, "Juanita Marbrook," January 15-31. 1942.
The (NY) World-Telegram, January 1942.
Pour la Victoire, "De Montparnasse a la 57eme Rue,"
Michel Georges-Michel, New York, NY August 12, 1944.
Revue de la Pensee Francaise, Michel Georges-Michel
with his caricature of the artist, October 1944.
France-Amerique, "Courrier des Arts: Juanita Marbrook,"
New York, NY, February 25, 1945.
The New York Times, "Three Who Grow," Howard
Devree, February 17, 1946.
The (NY) World-Telegram, Emily Genauer, February 24, 1946.
Art News, "The Passing Shows," March 1946.
The (NY) World-Telegram, "Rewarding Exhibitions: Children by the Sea," Emily Genauer, March 2, 1946.
The (NY) Sun, Helen Carlson, September 17, 1948.
The (NY) Sun, "Current Displays Varied in Style,"
Helen Carlson, February 23,1946.
La Revue Moderne des Arts et de la Vie,
"Contemporary Art in the U.S.A.," January 5, 1947.
Art Digest, "Fantasies by Marbrook," February 1948.
Art News, "Juanita Marbrook Guccione," September 1948.
The (Washington D.C.) Sunday Star, "News of Art and Artists: Dream World,"
Florence S. Berryman, May 15, 1949.
Ulster County (NY) News and Kingston Leader, "Marbrook
Exhibit Favorably Received," July 7, 1949.
Catskill Mountain Star, Saugerties, NY, July 22, 1949.
The Miami Herald, "Fanciful Canvases on View," Doris Reno,
August 14, 1949.
Art Digest, "Marbrook Fantasies," September 1951.
Art World, cover story, May 15, 1954.
Art World, "The Rose," January 1972.
The Illustrated Weekly of India, May 1972.
Eve's Weekly, Bombay, India, "Surrealist Art," photographic
essay in color, English language magazine, November 4, 1972.
As Safa, Beirut, "Le 16 Octobre a la Gallery One, Le
Monde Magique de Juanita Guccione," October 9, 1973.
L'Orient le Jour, Beirut, "Juanita Guccione a la Gallery
One," October 18,1973.
Al Anwar, Beirut, October 20, 1973.
As Safa, Joseph Tarrab, "Un Esoterisme Enfievre,"
October 22, 1973.
Revue du Liban et de l'Orient Arabe, Beirut, "Juanita
Guccione ou l'Invitation au Voyage Interplanetaire," October
Ulster County (NY) Townsman, photo, August 11, 1977.
Ulster County Gazette, "Anniversary of Guccione,"
August 18, 1977.
Woodstock (NY) Times, photo, August 18, 1977.
Essalem, "Juanita guccione," Algiers, Algeria, December 1991.
El Moudjahid, Algiers, Algeria, "Juanita Guccione in a Love
Trip from New York to the Casbah," January 3, 1992.
Al Watan, Algiers, Algeria, January 1992.
at midnight June 20, 1904, in Chelsea, MA, to Hilda Waterman Rice and
Emanuel Rice, the second of four children (Irene, 1902; Dorothy, 1906;
James, 1908). Name at birth: Anita.
Family moves to
Pittsfield, then to Great Barrington, MA, before she is 12. Family
relocates again to Brooklyn, NY. Father dies.
Dorothy, begins art studies. Older sisters Irene and Anita follow.
Studies at Pratt Institute and Art Students League.
fashion model and pirate, memorizing the designs of competing houses
and copying them for her employer. Saves money to go to Europe.
to France in 1931, visits classes of Leger and Ozenfant but decides to
go to Italy and Greece, supplementing savings by taking portrait
From Greece she sails to Egypt, creating a
portfolio of character studies on board ship. Travels in Egypt briefly,
leaving for Algeria when she hears artists are welcome and able to live
Takes up residence in late 1931 in Bou Saada, an art
colony in eastern Algeria known as Gateway to the Sahara and seat of
famous Ouled Nail tribe.
Begins prolific sojourn lasting into
1935, occasionally traveling with Bedouins in the Sahara and frequently
accompanying them on hunting forays. Produces more than 60 oil
portraits and landscapes and hundreds of drawings.
At age 30
in Algiers bears a son, Djelloul, to Chehaba Ben Aissa Ben Mabrouk, an
Ouled Nail. When the relationship fails, she takes her infant son first
to England, then New York. Mother Hilda and sister Dorothy take the
sickly boy in and begin a protracted and finally successful negotiation
with Immigration Service and French government to keep him in the
In 1935 the Brooklyn Museum exhibits a portion
of the Algerian ouevre. It is greeted with a barrage of romantic
tabloid press, mythologizing her life in Algeria, and respectful reviews in the more serious press.
shown in the Brooklyn Museum bear the names Nita Rice and Juanita
Marbrook. During her residence in Europe or Algeria she changes her
name from Anita to Nita and then to Juanita. Returning to America, she
name Mabrouk to Marbrook. Late in her life she will
return to these Algerian works, and to others, and change their
signatures to Juanita Guccione. These changes cause archival problems
and impede her quest for recognition.
Designs portions of
murals for post offices and other public buildings for Works Progress
Administration. Continues studies. Paintings and drawings during this
period reflect social realist, cubist, abstract and surrealist
During World War II is influenced by the refugee
French Surrealists in Manhattan and by artists Archipenko, Gorky and di
Chirico. Studies with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, MA, and Manhattan
from 1937 to 1944. In 1941 her younger sister Dorothy dies of cancer at
the age of 35.
In 1943 she marries Dominick Guccione,
taxidermist and real estate entrepreneur. In 1944 they buy a summer
cottage in Woodstock, NY. Her studies with Hans Hofmann end.
of late 1940s and early 1950s is powerfully feminist. Critics uneasily
label it Surrealist, but its fabulist and astral elements elude
Surrealist canon. Exhibits this work frequently in Manhattan, Paris,
Florida, California, Beirut and Bombay.
Her husband dies in late 1950s.
Never again shows her earlier work.
the 1960s the human figure exits her work by stages, at first becoming
fantastical, then deific. A fecund production of watercolors and
acrylics on canvas begins. The work is powerfully astral and
metaphysical. She writes to a purchaser
of her works that she paints the world she sees remotely, distinct from imagining them.
1971 her older sister, Irene Rice Pereira, dies in Spain at the age of
69. In 1972 her mother, Hilda Rice, dies in Manhattan at the age of 92.
After a long relationship beginning in the late 1950s, marries Wilbert Newgold of Woodstock, NY, in 1986; he dies in 1988.
December 18, 1999, in Manhattan, having lived there continuously since
1935. Buried in Artists Cemetery in Woodstock, NY, next to Newgold.
Survived by her son, Djelloul Marbrook, and her younger brother, James Rice, who dies in Paris in March 2001 at the age of 93.
* For more in-depth
information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary