b. 1878, Warsaw, Poland
d. 1941, Cusset, France
Louis Marcoussis, formerly known as Ludwig Casimir Ladislas Markus, was a Polish-French Cubist painter and engraver. He began his artistic career at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts in 1901, where his teachers included Jan Stanislawski and Jozev Mehoffer. In 1903, he moved to Paris and studied under Jules Lefebvre at the Académie Julian.
In Paris, Markus made his living by selling caricatures to satirical periodicals, such as La Vie Parisienne and Le Journal. He also frequented cafes in Montmartre and Montparnasse, meeting icons of the cultural zeitgeist, such as Edgar Degas, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, and Guillaume Apollinaire. It was Apollinaire who suggested that Markus call himself Marcoussis. While originally influenced by Impressionism, Marcoussis quickly adopted Cubism. He commonly painted still lifes and musical instruments in the Cubist manner, as well as portraits, views of Paris, and the Breton seaside. Marcoussis’s style was celebrated for its fine handling and expression of fresh colors and lines. He participated in several important exhibitions, including the Salon d’Automne in 1905, the Salon des Indépendants in 1906, and the Salon de la Section d’Or at the Galerie de la Boétie in 1912. For the following quarter of a century, his work was shown in exhibitions throughout Europe and in the United States.
In the following years, Marcoussis married the Polish painter Alice Halicka and served in a Polish company of the French Foreign Legion from 1914 to 1919. In the 1930s, Marcoussis primarily worked on engraving, teaching at the Schlapfer Academy in Paris and making illustrations for the poems of T. Tzara, Gérard de Nerval, and Appollinaire.
As the German Army advanced in 1940, Marcoussis left Paris for Cusset, near Vichy, where he died in 1941. A posthumous exhibition of the artists’ works was organized in 1964 at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Today, his works are included in public collections around the globe, including those of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the National Gallery of Australia; and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.