The Leslie B. Marcus Collection: A Gift To The Beaverbrook Art Gallery

Herzl Kashetsky, The suitcase (detail), Prismacolor on paper, Collection of Leslie B. Marcus

February 27 - June 8, 2014    |    Regular Exhibition    |    Cost:

Various Artists

Leslie B. Marcus lived in New Brunswick for thirty years. In 1968 he was hired by the University of New Brunswick, where he taught courses in the Romance Languages (French and Spanish), first in Fredericton for one year, and then at the Saint John campus for the next twenty-nine years. When he retired in 1998, he moved to Nova Scotia, taking a vital piece of New Brunswick’s cultural heritage with him in the form of works of art that he had acquired over the course of his working life.

Now Leslie B. Marcus’ art collection, which comprises 136 works of art, has returned to New Brunswick as a gift to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Featured artists in the collection include Jack Humphrey, Miller Britain, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Robert Percival, Fred Ross, Herzl Kashetsky, Tom Forrestall, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Alex Colville, David McKay, Bruno Bobak, Molly Lamb Bobak, and many others.

Curator: Terry Graff
Organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with the support of the City of Fredericton and the Province of New Brunswick.


How I became a Collector

I remember the first work of art I collected in 1979. It was a watercolour by Robert Percival. I agonized over its purchase the whole weekend, and was so insecure in my taste that I phoned almost everybody I knew to get their approval.

“I don't know much about art, but I know what I like”, said U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. I agree with Eisenhower. But by the time I started collecting, the art world had turned its back on realism and veered towards abstract art.

An exception to this wave of abstraction was in Atlantic Canada, to which I moved in 1968. Here the art scene was vibrant, but very traditional. Here there were many talented artists generally unknown outside the region. Canadian art collectors were focused on the Group of Seven. I was initially indifferent to local artists, but in time I got to know many of the artists in Saint John, which led eventually to my becoming an enthusiastic collector.

To build a good collection on a modest budget, you need luck and the ability to make decisions quickly when a good, yet reasonably-priced piece appears.  I had the advantage of being single.  I could make decisions on the spot, without the need to consult a partner or a committee. I kept my eyes open and haunted the local art galleries, sometimes visiting several times a day. I was once greeted by a gallery employee with a warm “What? You again?”

I have neither children nor grandchildren: my paintings are my children.

Leslie B. Marcus