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Richard Merkin: His Favorite Things

Figurative paintings: survey of 40 years

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 14th 6-8pm

March 11, 2015 through April 19, 2015

 Carrie Haddad Gallery is pleased to present “Richard Merkin: His Favorite Things”, a solo exhibit featuring defining selections from the estate of the celebrated American painter, illustrator, and arts educator, Richard Merkin (1938 - 2009). Merkin’s portfolio is a prolific survey of American art, music, literature and sports spanning four decades from the 1960’s through the 2000’s. The show will be on view March 12th through April 19th with an opening reception on Saturday, March 14th from 6-8pm. All are welcome to attend.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Merkin's studio was located on Broadway and 80th Street where he lived for 69 years, loving his urban playground with a fierce passion.  His persona was as stylized as his paintings.  Adorned in custom suits, bowler hats, with a large moustache and big booming voice, Merkin merged his role as a flaneur and socialite with his integrity as an artist and journalist. 

Merkin was first commissioned by The New Yorker Magazine in 1988 to illustrate profiles of celebrities and prominent figures prevalent in the arts and cultural arenas.  This collaboration proved a perfect match for Merkin, coinciding with his personal fascination of people and history.  An avid reader, each painting is the product of extensive research; an exploration of the subject’s unique contribution to the world be it music, writings or political influence.  The author Tom Wolfe writes, “The typical Merkin picture takes legendary American images-from baseball, the movies, fashion, Society, tabloid crime and scandal-and mixes them with his own autobiography, often with dream-style juxtapositions."  The result after 20 years of commissions is 400 works on 30 x 22 inch, thick Arches paper with handmade pastels illustrating the most notorious people in American pop culture. 

This exhibit is inspired by a collection of paintings that illustrate Merkin’s favorite fancies: clothing, sex, baseball, celebrities, and the aesthetic of city life. The recurring motifs found in his large oil paintings of cigarettes, nude women, black freighters, the number 5 as painted by Charles Demuth, and a black and white terrier named Fiorello leave a trail of breadcrumbs to clue the viewer into these personal obsessions.

Richard Merkin’s energy and desire for challenge spread like wildfire.  He shared this in his classroom at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he was a professor for 42 years starting in 1963.  Students remember his enthusiasm, flirtatious personality, love of jokes, outrageous style and eccentric preferences.  Richard Merkin also had several successful exhibits at Terry Dintenfass Gallery at a time when the New York art scene was still embracing figurative work.  Regular contributions to Haper’s Bazaar and GQ Magazine kept Merkin’s influence in mainstream media for several decades.  His work is also currently represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum.

Artists in this show

Richard Merkin

Isabelle Eberhardt in the Army Hospital, 2005

Untitled (two blonde children), unknown

4th Estate (for Duncan Hannah), 1989

American Romances (Tarnower), 1984-85

Honoring the Saints, James Vanderzee in Harlem, 2002

Marlene Dietrich, c. 2005

Carson McCullers, 2005


Mark Rothko, c. 2005

Robert Morse in Capote, c. 1980

Buster Keaton , c. 1980


Calley, 1973

The Black Freighter #2, unknown

(117) Unknown, c.1980 - 2000

Untitled (Self-Portrait with Pencil), unknown


(540) Djuna Barnes, c. 1980 - 2006

Untitled 543 (Escorting Pretty Boy Floyd), c.1980-2008

The Theosophist (Blavatsky), unknown

Untitled (man with cap and cigar), 2005

Willem DeKooning, 2004

Eberhardt in Algeria, 2002


Untitled 541, c.1980-2008

Evidence No. I, 1979


Luxembourg, 1990


A Toledo Mud-Hen, 1984

Harry Davis, c. 1987


Kewpie Barrett In Hollywood, 1998

1914: Rabbit Maranville, 1986

Slim Jones for the Philadelphia Stars, unknown

Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues

Spring Training (Chesbro), 1985

(257) Baseball Player with Umpire, c.1980-2008


San Francisco Seals player, Steve Evans, date unknown

The Aztec Child, framed, c. 1980 - 2000

Brooklyn in the Fifties: 29th Street Tigers, unknown

The Night Life of the Soul, 2000

(426) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006


What Do Girls Dream Of?, 1990

The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars III, 2001

The Lover of the Long Shot and the Catcher in the Rye, 2000


The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars

(431) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

Broadway Nocturne in Cobalt, 1989

(419) Unknown, c. 1980 - 2006

The Land of Sen-Sen, unknown

Painting for Puritans, 1979-81


The Misplaced Dreams, 1980-82

Evidence # 2, 1979

Studio, 1974, 1974

Studio: Cecil Beaton, 1998

Untitled (for Ed Kienholz), 1965

Hotele (The Smile of Garbo), 1989

The Cricket Match, After Boitard, 1995

Orfeus and Euridice, 1982

(499) Nagasaki, c.1980

(500) A Cigarette that Bears a Lipstick Trace, c.1980

(503) Night Life of the Soul, c.1980

Untitled 529 (Gallery 444 Poster, SF Giants), 2004

(469) Satchel Paige, c. 1985

(472) Bobby Short at The Bottom Line, c.1980

(479) Hotele: The Smile of Garbo, 1989

(468) A Night in (the Cafe) Casablanca

(513) Untitled, c.1980

(501) Coming Back with a Spitball, c.1980

Paris de Nuit, 1995

(502) Poiret in Wien, 1976

Paris de Nuit - Page 5, 1979

Paris de Nuit - Page 8, 1979

Paris de Nuit - Page 7, 1979

Paris de Nuit - Page 6, 1979

PAris de Nuit - title page, 1979

Paris de Nuit - Page 3, 1979


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