This page gives some background on the artist Erika Marquardt and her collaborative work with Susan Erony. Matthew Swift Gallery offers some collaborative mixed media paintings by Marquardt and Erony, which are included on this web site in the category of Erony’s Collaborative Work.
Erika Marquardt (1937–2021) was born in Potsdam, Germany, adjacent to East Berlin and emigrated to the United States at age 20.
German-born artist Erika Marquardt and I worked together for eleven years. We met in 1995, when art critic and curator Charles Guiliano, and curator and writer Astrid Heimer, introduced us and asked us to show our work in an exhibition addressing the legacy of World War II, National Socialism, and the Holocaust. That same year, we were invited to do so again in Leipzig, Germany. While in Germany together, our conversation deepened and increased in complexity to the point that we decided to bring our dialogue literally onto canvas.
Erika’s father was a train engineer and an officer in the Wehrmacht. She does not know much of what he did. After the War, the family lived in the former East Berlin, from which they escaped just before the Wall was built. Her father had refused to join the Communist Party and feared imprisonment. Erika is thus the daughter of a perpetrator, willing or unwilling, of the Holocaust, but she also experienced the trauma of having been a child in war and the daughter of a POW in Soviet labor camps. Her complex legacy informs her work from every direction.
I see myself as an intuitive painter. It’s not a planned process. Somehow I start to paint an image and it’s more like a thought that comes out. It’s more a memory. I grew up in the company of women and kids, trying to survive in a war I couldn’t understand. The sound of the sirens, running for your life to find shelter, and, at night, the fantastic flash and detonation of houses being hit. And then the Berlin Wall coming down, the feeling of my youth. How differently I could have grown up.”
When I paint my figures I feel that they are part of a tissue and they are loosely painted. I pull them out of myself slowly like pieces of skin that rip in the process.Erika Marquardt