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 Juanita Rice Marbrook Guccione  (1904 - 1999)

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts / Africa/Algeria      Known for: cubism, surrealism, figurative paintings

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Juanita Rice Marbrook is primarily known as Juanita Rice Marbrook Guccione

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Juanita Rice Marbrook Guccione
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
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 Manhattan.

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.

Guccione's 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.

Describing 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."

The French 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."

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1941
" Juanita Rice Marbrook, Forty Paintings," Alma Reed Galleries,
New York, NY

1942
"Juanita Rice Marbrook," Bonestell Gallery. New York, NY

1946
"Juanita Marbrook," Bonestell Gallery, New York, NY

1949
"Juanita Marbrook," The Barnett-Aden Gallery, New York, NY

1949
"Juanita Marbrook," Mitchell Gallery, Woodstock, NY

1950
"Twelve Romantic Paintings of Fantasy," The Little Studio Inc.,
New York, NY

1951
"Juanita Marbrook," The Little Studio, New York, NY

1951
"Juanita Marbrook Guccione," George Binet Gallery, New York, NY

1972
"Juanita Marbrook Guccione," Taj Art Gallery, Bombay, India.

1973
"Guccione," Gallery One, Beirut, Lebanon.

1975
"Juanita Guccione," Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1977
"Recent Paintings and Watercolors," Juanita Guccione, Colony
Arts Center, Woodstock, NY

1986
"Juanita Guccione," Galerie Liliane Francois, Paris, France.

1991
"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.

2002
"A Fond Eye: Portraits of Algeria by Juanita Guccione," Arts
Club of Washington D.C. and Embassy of Algeria, Washington, DC.

2004-2005
"Voyage's End - Surrealist Paintings by Juanita Guccione, 1930s -
1970s: Futuristic Visions of a World Ruled by Women."
Poughkeepsie Art Museum, Poughkeepsie, New York.

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

1935
"Paintings by American Artists," 11 oil paintings executed
in Algeria, The Brooklyn Museum, NY

1935
"The Docks, Bridges and Waterways of New York,"
International Arts Center, New York, NY

1935
"American and Foreign Artists: Drawings, Pastels and
Watercolors," The Brooklyn Musem, NY

1943
"This is Our War," Artists League of America at
Wildenstein & Co., New York, NY

1945
Artists League of America, Third Annual Exhibition,
Riverside Museum, New York, NY

1946
"Painting in the United States," Carnegie Institute,
Pittsburgh, PA

1947
"Painting in the United States," Carnegie Institute,
Pittsburgh, PA

1948
"The Horse in Art, From Primitive to Modern,"
The Gimbel Gallery of Art with The Carlebach
Galleries of New York, New York, NY

1949
Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, FL

1949
"Three Modernists," Miami Beach Art Center, FL

1952
"Watercolor Exhibition, American Artists," The National
Arts Club, New York, NY

1958
Critics1 Art Travelrama, an exhibition organized by
Paula Insel, New York, NY

1959
Hotel New Yorker Fall Art Show, Coffee House Art
Gallery, New York, NY

1975
"Transformations," The Andre Zarre Gallery, New York, NY

1976
Vallombreuse Art Gallery, Palm Beach, FL

1976
"Contemporary Circle," Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center for
the Performing Arts, New York, NY

1976
La Galerie Mouffe, Paris.

1978
Metropolitan Painters and Sculptors, Manufacturers
Hanover Trust Building, New York, NY

1983
"46th Annual Exhibition," Metropolitan Painters
and Sculptors, New York, NY

1984
"Juanita Guccione," oils and lithographs, Tate Gallery,
San Francisco, CA

1990
"53rd Annual Exhibition," Metropolitan Painters
and Sculptors, New York, NY

PUBLICATION ARTICLES

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
27, 1973.

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.

CHRONOLOGY

Born 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.

Younger sister, Dorothy, begins art studies.  Older sisters Irene and Anita follow. Studies at Pratt Institute and Art Students League.

Works as fashion model and pirate, memorizing the designs of competing houses and copying them for her employer. Saves money to go to Europe.

Goes to France in 1931, visits classes of Leger and Ozenfant but decides to go to Italy and Greece, supplementing savings by taking portrait commissions.

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 cheaply.

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 United States.

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.

Paintings 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 anglicizes the
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 influences.

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.

Work 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.

In 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.

In 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.

Dies 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 http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

 




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