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Alice Levi Duncan
Marguerite Thompson Zorach was born in Santa Rosa, California, in 1887. Raised and educated in her home state, Zorach was one of the first women to matriculate at Stanford University in 1908. However, having shown a great aptitude for painting, Zorach was allowed leave Stanford to join an aunt in Paris later that year in order to pursue art. Zorach spent four years studying at La Palette, a progressive school in the Latin Quarter where she met William Zorach whom she would marry in 1912. In Paris, Zorach was immersed in the ideas espoused by the European avant garde and by artists such as Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice de Vlaminck, among others. During this time she was directly influenced by French Fauvism in particular and began to emphasize the use of color and line over formal representation in her own work. Indeed, as Valerie Ann Leeds has stated, this “keen sense of color and design,” which Zorach began to develop during her Paris years, remained one of her “particular strengths as an artist” throughout her long career. After returning to the United States in 1912, Zorach marked the beginning of her professional career as an artist by exhibiting work at the Armory Show in 1913 and, a few years later, at the prestigious Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters. Zorach continued to evolve and expand her language of modern American art unceasingly until her death in 1968.