Marcus Glenn

Marcus Glenn

1968–

Marcus Glenn is one of the most exciting young artists to emerge in recent years. Marcus is proudly a Detroit native – born and raised. His studio has long been in the heart of Corktown – the oldest neighborhood in the Motor City. He has commissioned works of art hanging in exclusive private and public collections throughout the world. He is one of the most widely collected contemporary artists, and his collectors eagerly await each new creation.

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Personal History

Marcus’ first introduction to art was at the age of five when his kindergarten teacher asked him to illustrate a board in the classroom. He says his mother enjoyed painting and fostered Marcus’ creativity as he grew by always making art supplies readily available throughout the house. As a teen, Marcus won a full scholarship to the city’s prestigious Center for Creative Studies. Although he says he didn’t quite connect at the school, it didn’t stop him from endlessly drawing, cartooning, painting and creating. He became the first African-American and the youngest cartoonist in the Detroit News.  As a freelance cartoonist, his comic strip “Double Trouble” was published daily in the News and ran for three years.

In 1988, at the age of 20, Glenn participated in his first public art exhibition hosted by Gerald Marant Gallery and former Detroit Pistons player, John Salley. The group exhibition featured nationally known artists Annie Lee, Carl Owens and Gilbert Young.

Marcus has sold artwork in nearly 70 different countries to many thousands of art enthusiasts. His artwork “One Nite Outta This World” was selected as the official art for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles in January 2014. Glenn was also the official artist of the 2014 Amelia Island Jazz Festival.

In his studio, he’ll work for 14 hours without eating or leaving, unaware until his wife calls him to attention. For the artist, though, painting is incredibly liberating, removing all of his stress. Without painting, Marcus says his life would be boring and unfulfilled.

Style and Influences

Marcus credits his artistic skills as God-given ability and to studying artists like Picasso, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews and Ernie Barnes. His work deals with issues that continue to fascinate him, such as the creative process of making art, the solitary experience of the artist, the dialog between art and the viewer, and music (mostly jazz).

Known for his use of bright colors and his expressive use of paper and fabric, Marcus creates a masterful textured collage effect. He fascinates viewers by inviting them into his realm of colorful and unique imagery. While he gets a good amount of his supplies from local art stores, the fabrics he uses are often passed through his family.

Marcus combines painting and sculpture in a bas-relief effect, calling his style “Flat Life,” which he has developed for more than a decade. Marcus is always trying to further refine this style by enhancing his technique and taking his collages to the next level.

Marcus paints with “the palette of God,” something that kept him grounded when his career began to spike. His works are peppered with symbolism, most apparent in his colorful floorboards, which jut at different angles in a spectrum of colors and provide a “foundation of love” for humankind.

His figures are animated and mannerist in approach, often stretching and twisting into impossible positions. Marcus says that he elongates his figures, breathing life into their instruments as they become one through the element of jazz. His works are heavily jazz-infused. Although not a musician himself, when he was growing up, his father was an avid jazz collector. Marcus remembers listening to the records, capturing that moment in time. When he began painting from these memories, he liberated the vision of the characters and instruments like the creativity within the jazz.

He likes to paint straight on to board, rather than canvas, tearing paper and fabrics to build his collage. When creating his instruments and characters, he uses illustration board, sketching them first before they’re cut out, painted, and added to the work. Once it’s finished, he needs to live with it for two to three days, adjusting it later if necessary.

Accomplishments

  • Marcus has commissioned works of art hanging in exclusive private and public collections throughout the world.
  • His artwork “One Nite Outta This World” was selected as the official art for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles in January 2014.
  • He was the official poster artist for the 2014 Amelia Island (Fla.) Jazz Festival.
  • His series, “A Day at the Gallery” pays homage to other artists by incorporating their work into his.
  • Also working as a freelance cartoonist, he became the first African American and the youngest cartoonist in the Detroit News. His comic strip, “Double Trouble,” was published daily and ran for three years. The strip was based on his twin daughters, 6 years old at the time, telling stories about the exciting and hilarious moments he encountered as they grew up. His career as a cartoonist only enhanced his painting, giving him the tools to tell his stories through other media.
  • In 1998, Glenn was commissioned by Daimler-Chrysler to paint a mural. Later that year, he was commissioned by renowned restaurateur, Patrick Coleman, for a mural. And in 1999, he was featured in a group exhibition hosted by Daimler-Chrysler.
  • In August of 2005, Glenn’s work was featured in his first museum exhibition held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The museum now hosts one of his paintings in its permanent collection.
  • In 2014, Glenn was chosen as the official artist for the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, held annually on Amelia Island in Florida. The event helps raise money to provide scholarships for young musicians.

To learn more about Marcus Glenn, please visit his artist website.

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