National Museum of Women in the Arts
Marjorie Content
February 17 1895 - August 20 1984
image
Marjorie Content, Self-Portrait, ca. 1928, courtesy of Jill Quasha. (c) Estate of Marjorie Content, New York, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
New York
Nationality:
American
Phonetic Spelling:
MAHR-juh-REE kuhn-TEHNT
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Photography, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Costume Designer, Photographer, Portraitist
Style:
Other
Artist's Biography:
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.

Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Doylestown
Where Trained/Schools:
Private lessons (1914 - 1915) Miss Finch's School, New York, NY, USA (1911 - 1914)
Related Visual Artists:
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
Fellowships, grants and awards:
none
Earliest exhibition:
not applicable
NMWA exhibition(s):
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
A History of Women Photographers
Artist retrospective(s):
Marjorie Content: Photographs 1925-1935, The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA, USA (1994)
Related places
Doylestown (died at)