Tag Archives: Marguerite Van Cook

Oneness Revisited

blossomsmallOneness Revisited 2010

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.  ~Tennessee Williams


These works speak to the multifaceted sublimity of nature. This series owes much to Barnett Newman as I  borrow his use of the famously termed “zip,” the strip of color that runs vertically through his often monochromatic paintings, which he believed offered a passage into the realms of the sublime or the limits of rationality.  In my work  the “zip” reveals the complexities that proliferate from the apparently simplest flowers to reveal the boundlessness of color, structural complexity, and the hidden. The flowers are photographed in my urban garden.

 Prints  48″ by 36 “.


Candelabra  Marguerite Van Cook


StarlilysRose Zip

Genetic Portraits: Products of Immortality.

This show opened the night before the World Trade attack of 911. Consequently, in wake of the tragedy it was received in unexpected ways. People came into the gallery which was just above Houston Street, just slightly outside the worst hit zone, to commiserate and to cry.  Ironic since the show was about preserving memory and the problems of storing ones genetic data for sale.

 Each image was part of a grouping that offered not only the portrait but the subjects molecular structure. It also included a DNA analysis for future recreation. This was placed into clay pots.

 I chose people from amongst my friends and peers for my subjects .

 I  wanted to show elements of their vocations, visual clues to assist in their recreation down the road. Hence my ballerina is depicted in a romantic pose.

The Herald was fun to paint because it simply represents a young man in his prime and I enjoyed the historicity of his pose which contrasts the post modern ubiquity of blue jeans with the classic quality of his pose.

 The Herald may be viewed at a larger scale

The Outsiders Compass Series and Film.

The Outsiders Compass is the first in a series that appeared in a show at The Proposition Gallery along with my film, “Funky Shui in New York.” Please Art in America Review at the bottom of the page.

Morpheus Loves Persephone,  print 48×36.

Golden boyNectar for the Golden Boy 36X48

Rosetta, 24X36

Keats 36X48

The Glasswhistlers EmbarkationThe Glass Whistlers Embarkation 36×48

outsiders compass at Harvard

Lateral Dommages at Harvard Business School Collection

 At Max Fish


 April 2004 Art In America

Marguerite Van Cook at The Proposition

Marguerite Van Cook is a New York artist who worked with DC Comics and formerly ran the Lower East Side gallery Ground Zero with her husband, James Romberger. Van Cook began work on the video Funky Shui in New York (2003) with the notion that she would travel through New York and improve the city’s energy potential through the Chinese practice of environmental correction known as feng shui. According to its practitioners, feng shui involves an understanding of geographic orientation and electromagnetic energy in the balancing of opposites and the releasing of blocked energy. Van Cook writes that she came to realize that improving the universe was an improbable task, and so begins this 8-minute video projection by acknowledging in on-screen text, “Some things are best left alone,” punctuated with the track of a percussive base line. Van Cook constructs a filmic ritual, viewed in jump cuts and montage, that incorporates images associated with feng shui, beginning with a vat of living frogs—in China, traditionally linked to wealth—moving in undulations of acidic purple- green water. In close-up, a woman (the artist) appears, costumed in headscarf, lipstick and sunglasses. Next comes imagery of a small courtyard of brick and stone and a narrow passageway, the sort of corridor associated in feng shui with the escalation of energy. The frogs appear again, and daffodils fill the screen. A figure veiled in white goes by. In the courtyard, the woman rocks in a folding chair, head thrown back, mouth stretched wide. A boy faces into a corner, then out, as though spinning. There is a jump cut to the bared back of a kneeling figure, the back gracefully inscribed with an ancient text concerning harmony and rulers. There are cuts to the veiled figure and flowers and to a nude man in carnival mask. The woman walks down Orchard Street, or somewhere similar, inspecting merchandise on the sidewalk. Through the legerdemain of digital editing, a postcard like still of the masked man recedes into the distance, falling away from a close-up of tulips, and then the man sits on a couch. And so it goes. In a text accompanying this exhibition, Van Cook describes her fascination with still images derived from film. For her, these moments exhibit a quality that surpasses the power of ordinary photographs. With that in mind, she intended Funky Shui as a source for the creation of such images. In an adjacent room, the artist installed four chromogenic color prints that are composites constructed of such frame grabs. These iconic images formally recall not only their immediate source but the work of generations of avant-garde filmmakers, from Bunuel and Dali to Jack Smith, shifting away from the confines of narrative to build structures made of dreams. —Edward Leffingwell

Nature and Metamorphosis Images.

This series came about as I was thinking about my relationship to nature, I saw a frog at night and when we were cycling in the Camargue in France, then we saw hundreds of them. I love te delicate quality of their skin tone. They invited me to play with ideas of anthropomorphism.

I was filming the whole time and some of the images are less pristine because they are caught in motion, or because the media conflict with the subject. Only so much is possible, but then pushing the low tech is something that I’ve often explored.

The relationship between the body and nature and how we understand energy led me to make this image. The distortion is inspired by the ideas of metamorphosis brought by the frog.

Body in change, dreams at night. More to be said about how this image was produced. Women’s issues that deserve a textual explanation.

I have left this page text light for the time being, because I want the images to be what speaks, at least for the moment.

“7 Miles a Second” by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook.


7 Miles a Second“7 Miles a Second’,  a collaborative project, is finally presented as it was intended with additional pages and the color restored from it’s watercolor originals.

A new soft cover edition is available from Ground Zero Books.

Buy it now:


“7 Miles a Second” has been getting a good response, particularly gratifying is its arrival at number 5 on the New York Times Best Sellers Hardcover Graphic Book List

Articles and Press for “7 Miles a Second” :

New York Times Art Beat has a short but welcome commentary.

Band of Thebes Wojnarowicz Life Story in Graphic Memoir ‘7 Miles a Second’

 X-TRA Escape Velocity by Glen Harcourt

Slate Book Review High Brow Trash by Noah Berlatsky

Sorry, Katari  7 Miles a Second by Katari Sporrong

Hyperallergic Inside David Wojnarowicz’s Comic Book by Jillian Steinhauer

Artforum James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook by Nicole Rudick

News 1.  The Book Reader by Dan Kois -State

L’Accoudoir   Spirale et 7 Miles a Second by Mikaël Demets (French text).

An Interview with me and James Romberger by Grace Bello at Publishers Weekly about upcoming rerelease of 7 Miles A Second

Romberger & Van Cook by Romberger Art / Color Van CookThis article came out today in Publishers Weekly.  It will appear in both the hard copy and the online copy.
It discusses the process and publication of the re-release of Seven Miles a Second, a collaborative effort to realize David Wojnarowicz’ graphic memoir. As the article points out, much time has passed since we began this work. It is great to see “Seven Miles a Second” come out in the way that it was intended. For that we thank the great team at Fantagraphics who let us have it our way.

 Remembering David : A Graphic Tribute: James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook

Twenty Four Islands : Poem

My poem Twenty-four Islands was awarded The Van Rensselear Poetry Prize for Lyric Poetry by Columbia University in 2009.

Twenty-four Islands
No 1
This island is inhabited by Turtles,
Flowering shrubs linger past the drift stalks
Sea shells flock the debris
This is the island where I forgot my sweater
That summer my breasts began to grow
The beach evenings were cool
I wore shorts and my legs were bare

Island No 2
Black sand frills purple hills
Island plum trees
At night, insects dine on fallen fruits
Intoxicated by sugar
Sated by dreaming
The Island where I lit a fire
Inspiration heavy eyes
I slept on the beach, warmed by flames

Island No 3
The honeycomb land of caves!
Thread throughout, a Chinese puzzle
Each flower framed
White like ivory
Blue insect husks flutter
The island where I journey inward

Island No 4
The island is bird swarmed
Scream from treetops
Trees sheaved in aqua leaves
Smacking parrot beaks kiss together
Seed shells shimmer in the clearings
Discarded by dissident birds gangs of
Yellow Island in a black sea disappears at night
Last boat won’t linger

Island No 5
Fruit fed hogs run delinquent squealing
Break bushes, graze bark with bristles
Hog hair paints skyline
Swamps, feeding flies
Line truffle raped hillsides
This is the island that calls for fire but has none

Island No 6
A flat island given to floods
Home to small interior lakes
Tse flies swarm and no man of heart ventures in land
The flies mists too dense
Block stars
Three dogs roll to stop the bites
Drive them mad
The transvestite’s canoe brings scraps
The weather turns dry
This is the island where I left my notes on Aristides

Island No 7
This is the island where terrible things happened to the young Florimund sisters
A memory, Thank god
Hut stands empty
Snakes in roof and the pots are full of mold
The sky gold at night
And the jasmine flowers smell sickly
The island smells of babies

Island No 8
This is the island where the grandmothers hid
From poets new, (me)
Drinking Portuguese wine and smoking Cuban cigars
Smoke on hills
The train station is shuttered
Holy Oaks whisperings floated sea
The women stay indoors

Island No 9
The place of the holy springs
Lily white sins turn black
Guilt rides big horse, looks from under big brim
My sisters walked into the sea to marry mer- men
Or drown on sanctity
Cell phone stops working
Sand got into it
Rinsing made it blacker
Island of dark Iris.

Island No 10
Empty boats fill quays and on the hill a watches them
Ancient fellow scowls at the skips
Ripple-bob beads on a string
Dawn tide daily murmur
Bear a bream of unaccounted names
The dame of the sea, the salty girl, my sisters

This is the island where I bought a telescope, I walked coast spray mist
Monkeys hang out in deserted cabanas
Mock humans, my sisters, my friends, my monkeys, my island

Island No 11
Graves on the hillside are littered by plums
Orchard hangs over a terraced garden run amok
Go where you would see
The graves are tidy, tended well,
Beach stones shine brightly and catch the sun
Mirrors flashing across the sea
Morse messages from the dead
White path cuts up
A few goats zigzag nanny, nanny, “Sappho was here”
They were poets who over reached
Where I cried for my family

Island No 12
Cat’s tails wave together Chinese plate jugglers
Thin and gaunt, eyes demand knowledge
Lovers hunt
Threadbare smiling kitties
Till dark to roust mice from the ivy
They piss and shit
Giant flies bejewel their turds
The sun beats the patchy lawns

Island No 13
This is the island where names are changed
(Ariel cries for Prospero)
The Scottish play
Harry is Harriet and Sally is jack
This is the island where the deaf blind woman teach the secret language
These islands disconnected from logic, defined by lack of connection,
The animals and ships ferry stories to and fro.

Island No 14 is the face of Christ when viewed from the west.
From the east a small Buddha sits in the water.
Happy on one side, sad on the other.

Island No 15
This island empty baby baskets hang in bamboos
I left my child there
The one that was not born
The one I dreamed of at night
The one to be a brother
The one to argue with his brother about Proust
And the stars
Who lied about all the books he read till questioned closely
And then laugh with corny yellow hair and corn flower eyes
Lips like poppies in the summer

Island No 16
This is the island of empty crosses
The crucifix’ mark missed chances
Wrack the pain of unwritten tales
Bleached away poems of stretched skin nailed on them
As if they never were because they never were
The mottos written in the language no one knows
Escaped words of woman with no memory who sits at foot of the hill
Sings each line once
In lines freed again
You can wait a lifetime to hear it.

Island No 17
Hair hangs from trees
It is my sisters’ lost hair
My lost hair
Women’s hair given unwillingly away.
Hair torn by poets frustrated
It is the hair given to common sense and nice workable bobs
For jobs we did not want nor care for
For reasons that were alien to our hearts
These hairs were cut when I pretended to be a man a boy to gain a foothold
These tresses came out in sickness
Turned grey and sat in the horror hand in clumps
Ringed the bathtub caught in the scum of fear
They are thick on the island
Stretching as far as eyes can see

This island waits for you to come.

Island No 18.
This is the island of toothless mares,
They hobble bone- bare up stony paths to the hills
The meadows are sweeter on high
The grasses softer, gentler on the gums
Their drooped heads find the grass easily
Good because the climb is hard
At dusk descend to flinty sheds
Leeward from the wind

Island No 19.
These mares are strong and have ripped the tits from milking mothers
Pass by
Rage like this is not easily shaken
Stop, anger
Dream for those who have earned their night mares
Flare their nostrils from the stench
Trample the strongest psyches
Harridan horses leap into volcano pit
And come out their teeth filled with bloody screams and fire
Hooves pounding like drums in the ears
Flanks flashing like knives
This is the island of too much fire

Island No 20.
This is the island of x where things break
Plates and pencils, nibs that never write for snapping and
Porcelain statues and teacups and mothers and me- everything breaks
Dog’s legs, flower stalks and membranes
And watch- straps, oaths and you and eggs
Models with lolly sticks or matches, and codes,
And my fucking heart- computers, syntax and the middle c key on the piano

Island No 21.
This is the island of stupid girls who think it’s all right, everything is good and it isn’t
It isn’t a bit
The island where stupid girls deny reality
The island where stupid girls think its okay to pretend the world is fucking nice for women that it’s all over and it never was a big deal
This is the island where stupid girls choke on their own pompous words and are so dumb they don’t notice they are being buggered and fucked from both sides because the are not moving because they cannot turn
They cannot look, they dare not breathe, because they know they are fuckadentally flawed.
This is the island where those who complain are ridiculed by the stupid women
It is a drag to be on this island and anyway it’s barely real and walking into it is like walking into a big empty cunt.

To me this island feels overcrowded.

Island No 22
Is where the girls dance for themselves
Don’t know what it looks like because me too I just dance there
No eyes to care
But it does feel good I’ll tell you that
We dance there till our mouths water with the taste of bread
Saliva fills our mouths and we breathe blossoms wafts
Colors in the head fly round down the spine
I love my skin yes I do
I love to move
My feet
Oh my sisters I cry for you who never danced for yourself

Island No 23
Has a velvet rope and doesn’t let people in unless they are cool or on the list
Drinks with fruit in them, champagne
From the air it is shaped like Dante’s rings
Difficult to get in to the interior circle
You have to be really special
Beatrice avoids the place says it’s as crowded as hell and
She tends to be right

Island No twenty four
Is as tiny as rose bud and its sands are pink tinged
And the sea around it is filled with carmine kelp
Its sea shells are baby fingers curled in sleep
Three virgins cry milk instead of tears
Trees sway soft visitors look backward through telescopes
It’s a good place to have a jolly good cry when you are tuckered out.

And then we could talk about the reef but that’s for another day.
Maybe Sunday.