Reginald Marsh (1898–1954)

Pip and Flip, 1932

Tempera on canvas mounted on canvas, 48 1/4 x 48 1/4 in. (122.6 x 122.6 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection. Image © Estate of Reginald Marsh / Art Students League, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York ., 1999.96

Reginald Marsh was an important urban-realist painter of Depression-era New York who made vibrant images of the seedier sides of big-city life. Coney Island, New York’s beach refuge for the masses, appealed to Marsh for its energy and eccentricities and for the opportunities it gave him to study the human body in all its variations. Like many of his compositions, Pip and Flip presents a frieze-like throng of people in a compressed space and highlights the voluptuous female form that came to be known as the “Marsh girl.” An excellent draftsman, the artist appreciated the way translucent layers of egg tempera could reveal the linear drawing beneath the color. His attraction to gaudy entertainment is clearly evident here: banners represent the circus sideshow and painted backdrops depict the stars of the midway.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.