Boris Margo Biography

Boris Margo




Boris Margo, inventor, painter, sculptor, and printmaker, was born Boris Margolis on 7 November 1902 in the small, western Ukrainian town of Volochys'k. He studied at the Polytechnik of Art in Odessa from 1918 to 1923. The following year, in Moscow, he participated in the Workshop for the Art of the Future known as Futemas and, between 1927 and 1929, he studied in Leningrad, first at the Hermitage and then with the cubist/surrealist painter Pavel Filinov at the Analytical School of Art. In 1928, with the permission of the Soviet government to study abroad, Margo traveled to Montreal where he worked as a muralist before immigrating to the United States in 1930. He began studying at the Roerich Museum and two years later was teaching there. 

In 1931, Margo began experimenting with celluloid and developed the cellocut, a new approach to printmaking. He dissolved sheets of celluloid into a viscous liquid that he poured onto masonite and then worked the hardened surface with printmaking tools.

Margo married Jan Gelb in 1941 and became an American citizen in 1943. He joined the stable of artists with the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York in 1947 and that same year his works were included in the exhibition of Abstract and Surrealists American Art at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of The Century Gallery, and he won the first of many purchase awards from the Brooklyn Museum. He was visiting artist at the American University in Washington, D.C. in 1946 and, in the late 1950s, he was visiting professor for two years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1988 a retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted at the Provincetown Art Association.

Boris Margo’s work is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Albert-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Detroit Institute Arts, Michigan; the Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan; the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Hammer Museum, University of California Los Angeles; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington.

Boris Margo died in Hyannis, Massachusetts on July 5, 1995.