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 Marvin Steel  (1936 - )

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Lived/Active: Florida/Michigan      Known for: seascape, fantasy, nude, mural

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Marvin Steel
An example of work by Marvin Steel
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Marvin Steel is a painter of romantic realism in oil and pastel. He is a resident of Coconut Creek, Florida, and has work in the collection of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Steel grew up on Miami Beach, then just a small fishing town. His early interests were: painting, fishing and small boats. When he was an early age, his mother noted his talent in art and started art lessons for him when he was six years old with Miss Brook's, then at the Associated Artists art shop.

Marvin Steel studied ten years with Dutch portrait painter, Sam Jafnel, who worked for many years painting portraits at Jenny Grosingers Resort in the Catskill Mountains; at the age of 16, he took private lessons from a Russian impressionist Leo Braschansky; and then, became an apprentice and student with muralist Warren Soned. With Soned, Marvin Steel helped paint many of the art deco murals on South Beach.

His high school was a vocational art school with Kenneth Bare who advocated the ideas of Nickoliades. The next schools were: Ringling School Of Art, Sarasota, Florida; The Academia De Bellas Artes; El San Fernando in Madrid, Spain; and University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida where he earned a B.A. in Art.

Steel painted in a variety of locations including Miami, Sarasota, Madrid, Lengries Germany in the U.S. Army, and Coconut Creek where he now paints. The person that has influenced Steel more than anyone else is writer Ayn Rand.

Steel's ethnic make up is a hodgepodge of almost every country in Europe from the north to the south. Steel's wife's family, the Van Loven's, were cousins of the Van Gogh's. Steel's Father was Barron Le Blumste..... something (changed at some to Bloom). Steel's other achievements are that he beat Blindfold World Chess Champ George Koltonowski at the age of 11; Learned to play the flamenco guitar at an early age, and accompanied members of his family and still plays gypsy flamenco for local dancers.

Steel has held jobs as a commercial fisherman, boat builder, bridge tender, bronze foundryman, art teacher, mural painter and art restorer. Marvin was married in 1966 to his model who continues to be seen in many of his paintings. They have one daughter, Roxanne, and a granddaughter, Violet.

During the past fifty years Marvin Steel has had numerous exhibitions. His first one man show was at the Warren Soned Gallery, Miami in the 50's; another was at the Ringling School Of Art, Sarasota, Florida. Other one-man shows were at the Holly Daly Herman Palm Beach Gallery, Kottler Gallery, Manhattan and Arthur's, Los Gatos, Calif.

Affiliations include professional artist membership in the American Society of Marine Artists, a member of the International Institute of Conservation, and a professional member of the American Institute of Conservation.

Some of the special awards are: 50th Annual Exhibit Of Contemporary American Paintings; the Phillip Hulitar Award; The Society Of The Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida; Strathmore Award, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; and the Fort Lauderdale Museum Of Art.

Other exhibition venues include:
Mystic Seaport Museum
Sarasota Art Center
Longboat Key Art Center
Academia De Bellas Artes, Madrid
Boone Art Center, North Carolina
San Luis Obispo Art Center, California
Town Center Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida
Salmagundi Club,N.Y.
Lowe Gallery, Coral Gables, Florida
Arnold Art Gallery, Newport R.I.
Marvin Steel

Fandago by Marvin Steel 'Steel' Paintings of Life, Contrasts
By Amy Ward

Local artist one of Coconut Creek's best-kept secrets.

Coconut Creek artist Marvin Steel, 65, still remembers some of his very first drawings. "There was a war going on and I used to draw airplanes shooting down German airplanes," he said.

Since those first days of early childhood sketches, Steel's artwork has grown considerably in detail and talent. With the attention of loving parents who believed in his artistic ability, Steel trained under several experienced artists of different nationalities. Dutch, Russian and American instructors all helped Steel round out his inherent talent and develop his technique and style, a style that now is appreciated worldwide.

"If he's not the best American painter alive, maybe he's the second. I do not know any other of that kind of quality," said Rogelio Gill, one of Steel's very dedicated patrons. Gill met Steel when he was in Spain and was instantly attracted to his work.

"You can buy a painting of Marvin's maybe for $20,000, but a painting of that kind of quality would be worth half a million," he said.

What is it that makes Steel's paintings seem so spectacular to his collectors? Like a fine fabric woven out of intricate threaded detail, Steel's work exhibits the layers of color, consciousness, and creativity he's worked years to blend and perfect.

Richly hued oils drench his canvasses in the colors of life, sometimes representative of crisis or confusion, sometimes representing the warm sultry passions of the human experience.

"This is real stuff," Steel said. "This is life."

Several of Steel's paintings reveal his use of startlingly attractive nudity.

"These are the things that attract people and that's reality," he said. "In any society you have women who are beautiful. Look at the movie stars they get the best jobs; you can't ignore that. That's what I like."

Steel's use of nudity is more like a warm sip of sensuality, certainly not there for simple shock value. He said it is all part of the imaginative situations that he is trying to represent in his paintings.

"It's all a relationship between men and women and the kind of psychological ideas there," he said.

Many of his paintings relay facets of this simple relationship that has puzzled humankind for centuries, but are depicted through a kaleidoscope peek of Steel's decadent imagination. One example of his rich imagination is his piece "The Tycoon and the Hitchhikers." As three women travel on a rowboat away from their home - a destroyed city in the background, they pose gracefully and remove their clothing to attract the attention of a tycoon floating by who has taken an interest in their appearance.

"It's a romantic adventure going on," Steel said. The tycoon has a dollar sign flag displayed, which represents capitalism, Steel explained. "Capitalism saves people from poverty. These women came out to have a better life and they're actually hitchhiking to see if they can go with these millionaires," he said.

Steel's inspirations are a combination of real life and contrasts, he said, which he first pounds out in a variety of sketches, and then displays in oils with his technique of bright colors and the use of positive emotions.

"That is strange," he said of his inspirational process. "Something catches my eye and I think what would exactly be the opposite of that scene, what would never be in that scene. I get my ideas from these contrasts. I think of something opposite and it has to have a funny or strange twist to it that catches your eye."

Steel's piece "The Laughing Hat" is an example of his use of contrasts. Dark, ominous, and turbulent waters foam and crash in a roaring sea, while a little bright red hat simply bounces about the waves. The hat is not taken under by the treacherous waters, but seems to enjoy an exciting ride aboard their crests.

"I'm not pessimistic at all," he said.

Quent Cordair is the proprietor of a gallery in California that houses some of Steel's artwork.

"We like Marvin Steel because he's his own man," Cordair said. "He couldn't give a damn about potential critics and gives hardly a thought to his audience: he paints for himself - to bring into reality a vision of his own passionate, life-loving, sensuous approach to life. In so doing, he gives us the opportunity to enjoy, via his art, the pleasure of the company of a grand and refreshing spirit - worldly influenced, uniquely independent - wholly American."

As for Steel, he still remains one of the best-kept secrets in the art world, perhaps safely guarded by his passionate patrons who continue collecting his works privately without competition.

"A lifetime of painting. That's the role of the artist; when he's dead then they become something," Steel said.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Marvin Steel is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Nudes

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