Despite her short fifteen year career, Marjorie Content produced a series of extraordinary photographs during the 1920s and 1930s. Though her New York cityscapes, New Mexican landscapes, still lifes and portraits reveal an extraordinary talent for presenting the poetic qualities of her subjects, Content preferred to act as the muse to her friends.
Content was born to one of the wealthiest families in Manhattan. In her late teens she was introduced to Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The connection to Stieglitz, who was then running the avant-garde Gallery 291, allowed access to the latest trends in the art world and sparked an early interest in photography. Content’s first marriage to Harold Loeb, founder of the international art and literary magazine Broom
, ended in divorce but produced ties to many prominent literary figures, including Lola Ridge, an avant-garde poet and feminist. Content and Ridge co-managed SunWise Turn Bookshop, an all-women-run bookstore in Manhattan and gathering place for avant-garde artists and writers. At the age of thirty, at the encouragement of her second husband, artist and set designer Michael Carr, Content began to consider a photography career more seriously. Her photos reflect a modernist style influenced by Stieglitz’s industrial images. While her cityscapes and landscapes focus on structure and form, her portraits and nudes gracefully capture the lyrical beauty of her models.
Content’s relationship with O’Keeffe was a great source of inspiration and support. Content accompanied O’Keeffe to Bermuda when she was suffering from depression and the pair embarked on a cross-country adventure to an artist colony in Taos, New Mexico where they converted an abandoned shack into a studio and dark room. In 1933 she was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in New Mexico to photograph the Indians of the Southwest, where she flawlessly captured the gentle serenity of the West.
Content’s emotionally draining fourth marriage to Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer caused her to virtually abandon photography. She never exhibited her work, rarely even showed her work to her friends, and only published three photographs which were printed in the prestigious French magazine Photographie
Private lessons (1914 - 1915)
Miss Finch's School, New York, NY, USA (1911 - 1914)
wife of Michael Carr
friend of Gordon Grant
friend of Georgia O'Keeffe
friend of Dorothy Oberreyer
friend of Alfred Stieglitz
friend of Consuelo Kanaga
student of William Zorach
student of Marguerite Thompson Zorach