Dr. Judd Marmor, an American psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, and his wife Katherine, also a doctor, began collecting art after moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s. Their son, Dr. Michael Marmor said that neither of his parents ever considered themselves to be “art collectors,” but, rather, enjoyed the art scene in Los Angeles. They were founding members of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and were long-time supporters of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. While attending receptions and exhibitions, they made a point of getting to know artists who were garnering attention in the L.A. Art scene. The couple befriended many artists, such as William N. Copley, George Herms, Ed Kienholz, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, and H.C. Westermann, among others, and visited artists’ studios. They wanted to make efforts to get to know the artist’s work personally. John Moran Auctioneers is proud to present The Marmor Family Collection featured in our California Living sale, taking place Tuesday, March 26th, 2024. This selection of art and objects is comprised of 97 pieces.

To ease into collecting, the Marmors started with prints, and fortunately for them, this was the time that Gemini G.E.L. was founded, an artist’s workshop and publisher of limited-edition prints. Its mission was to publish prints by mature master artists, most of whom were working in other media. As a way of generating income for the new endeavor, Gemini founders offered subscriptions—consisting of an entire year’s output of prints. As a result, subscribers such as Judd and Katherine Marmor purchased more prints than they could feasibly display in their homes. While the Marmors did frame and display many of the prints, especially by favorite artists such as Ed Ruscha and Roy Lichtenstein, they ended up storing a good portion of the works.

The Marmors were fortunate to have Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) in their social circle. The couple’s vast print collection included many of Lichtensteins most notable series, 16 of which are featured in this sale and most coming from Gemini G.E.L. Among the offerings are CRAK!, 1964, Haystack Series #2, #3, and #4, 1969, five of the 1972 Mirror Series prints, and lots 23-26 are from his 1970 “Modern Head” series. Lichtenstein’s “Modern Head” series, created in the 1970s, stands as a critical dismantling of the history of Modern Art. This series represents a shift in Lichtenstein’s approach, moving away from mass-produced imagery towards the appropriation of stylistic conventions and specific works of Modern masters, including Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and Mondrian. According to the artist’s online catalogue raisonné, lot 23, “Modern Head #1” is Lichtenstein’s first woodcut with a print publisher and his only work in this medium between 1959 and 1980.

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), "Modern Head #1," from the "Modern Head" series, 1970, Woodcut in colors on Japanese Hoshi laid paper, Image: 20.125" H x 12.5" W, $15,000-20,000

“Through their strong relationships with various artists, the Marmor couple would purchase art directly from the artists themselves.”

Other Gemini G.E.L. artists featured are Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Ken Price, and Ronald Davis. Lot 20 is a piece by Jasper Johns, “Light Bulb,” from his “Lead Reliefs” series, 1969, and acquired by the Marmors in May of that year. Jasper Johns’ “Light Bulb” lead relief is a profound exploration of American cultural symbols encapsulated in lead, revealing the artist’s enduring fascination with mundane objects and their transformation into potent symbols of meaning. The series encapsulates Johns’ lifelong endeavor to destabilize and recontextualize the ordinary, transforming “things the mind already knows” into objects of contemplation and intrigue. At the heart of this piece lies the enigmatic presence of the light bulb, a motif that recurs throughout Johns’ career as a symbol of illumination and artistic creation. This “Light Bulb” lead relief represents a pivotal moment in Jasper Johns’ artistic evolution, showcasing his mastery of medium and his relentless pursuit of visual and conceptual complexity.

Jasper Johns (b. 1930), "Light Bulb," 1969, Lead relief multiple in the publisher's original welded aluminum frame, 39" H x 17" W, $20,000-30,000

Through their strong relationships with various artists, the Marmor couple would purchase art directly from the artists themselves. One such artist was William Copley (1919-1996). He was an influential figure in the postwar art world and renowned for his vibrant and audacious works that challenged conventional artistic norms. Copley’s body of work is a rich tapestry of loosely narrative compositions, featuring curvilinear figures, bold contours, and a vibrant palette of colors. His legacy is vital link between European Surrealism and American Pop art. Lot 30 will offer his work titled, “Haut Boy,” 1970.

William Copley (1919-1996),

William Copley (1919-1996), "Haut Boy," 1970, Acrylic on canvas, 51" H x 38" W, $30,000-50,000

In June of 1970 the Marmors purchased a floor sculpture that tapers from a smoky black to a clear resin from the Californian artist, Peter Alexander (1939-2020). Alexander stands as a trailblazing figure in the realm of California Light and Space art, a movement characterized by its exploration of luminosity and spatial perception. It was during his formative years at UCLA during the mid-1960s that Alexander’s affinity for resin, born out of his passion for surfing, crystallized into an innovative artistic approach. His seminal work, “Grey Wedge” (1969), lot 27, embodies the essence of Southern California’s coastal landscape, capturing the ephemeral quality of ‘June Gloom’ with its hazy, inky hues. This piece, along with others crafted in the form of cubes, wedges, and wall-mounted bars, became emblematic of Alexander’s ability to shape light and space through his art.

Peter Alexander (1939-2020), Grey wedge, 1969

Peter Alexander (1939-2020), Grey wedge, 1969, $20,000-30,000

Ace Gallery in Venice, California was frequented by the Marmors, and in the late 1970s/early 1980s they acquired works by Sir Anthony Alred Caro and Robert Rauschenberg. Lot 35, “Table Piece CCCLXXIII,” 1977, is a steel sculpture by Sir Anthony Alred Caro (1924-2013). Caro was an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterized by assemblages of metal using ‘found’ industrial objects. His restless experimentation with form and composition and his influential teaching at St. Martin’s School of Art in London propelled him to the forefront of contemporary sculpture. “Jade Hole,” 1980, lot 78, by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), was part of Ace Gallery’s “Three of the Cloisters Series” that took place April 24-August 15, 1980. Rauschenberg is known for his groundbreaking work in printmaking and photography, inspiring countless innovations and pushing the boundaries of what was possible in the realm of contemporary art. This work is an example of Rauschenberg’s use of his own photography and multi-media processes, a testament to his commitment to innovation and experimentation.

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008),

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), "Jade Hole," 1980, Oil, solvent transfer, and fabric collage on paper, Sheet: 31.5" H x 23.25" W, $40,000-60,000

Much of the Marmors art collection was held in the Marmor Foundation, and in the early 2000s the family initiated a 20-year promised gift of this art (more than 220 works) to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Judd and Katherine’s artistic ties were with large museums in Los Angeles, but their son Dr. Michael Marmor (a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford) and his wife Dr. Jane Marmor (a Stanford graduate) convinced their parents that the Cantor could maintain the art from the foundation and use it effectively for teaching and learning. As a result, a portion of this art remains on display at the Cantor, and the Marmor Collection is now a memorial to the elder Marmors’ appreciation for art. What began as a modest selection of burgeoning artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s became a historically rich collection of prints, drawings, sculptures, and paintings by many of the most admired American artists of the twentieth century. 

Beyond their involvement as art collectors and philanthropists to the arts and medical science, the Marmor Family has made important contributions to research and education. Judd Marmor was an eminent psychiatrist who was seminal in the effort within psychiatry to declassify homosexuality from its prior status as a disease, an effort that paved the way for gay rights. He advocated for greater science in psychoanalysis and fought against prospects of nuclear war.  Michael Marmor was trained in neurophysiology and ophthalmology and has made many contributions to enhance understanding of how the retina works and how to manage diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and retinal drug toxicity. His life-long interest in both vision and art merged into a 50-year career of writing and teaching about how the mechanics of vision are relevant to how artists create art and the way in which viewers see it. For decades, he taught a Stanford undergraduate course examining the relationship between the eye and art and has published four books on vision art, the most recent of which, The Artist Eye (Kugler Publications), was recently released in 2024. This interest in the relationship between vision and art is reflected among the Marmor offerings, such as works by Bridget Riley, with whom Michael Marmor had personal correspondence. Lot 7, “Ra 2,” 1981 is one of three Bridget Riley works in the sale. Riley (b. 1931) is a leading figure in the Op Art movement.

To learn more about The Marmor Family Collection, visit the online catalogue. There will be additional works from this collection offered throughout the 2024 auction season. Sign up today to be notified of all upcoming auctions. Bidding is available in person, online via Moran’s mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.

Additional Marmor Family Collection Lots