Marinko, George

Marinko, George J. (1908-1989)

George Marinko was one of the founders of the surrealist style in the United States. He was born in Derby, Connecticut in 1908. His father was a brass worker. From 1925 to 1929, Marinko attended the Waterbury Art School, coming under the influence of Lewis York, a visiting art professor from Yale. Funded by wealthy persons in Waterbury, he was able to attend the Yale School of Fine Arts where York and Eugene Savage were teachers, and Marinko began experimenting with surrealism. However, his academic training ended that first year with the stock market collapse. He survived by taking odd jobs and painting traditional landscapes. He was an individualist and worked in the surrealist style before he knew what it was. From 1934-1942, he painted in the surrealist style and completed “regionalist landscapes.” In 1936 he was included in an exhibition of surrealist art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In the late 1930s he traveled to Europe and Mexico, and on his return, worked for the Public Works of Art Project and then for the WPA Federal Arts Project from 1938 to 1940. In an interesting departure from approved criteria, the Federal Arts Project accepted a couple surrealist paintings from among the seventeen he completed. One of his paintings not done under the WPA, Orpheus in Agony, was exhibited at the New York World’s Fair. Marinko taught at the Waterbury Art School and in 1950-1951 served as an assistant director of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. According to one art dealer, Marinko’s earliest surrealist paintings were among the best by an American that he had seen, but Marinko never considered himself an equal with other surrealist artists. He was not well known outside of Waterbury or New Haven, where he spent the last thirty years of his life in a two room apartment. Visitors noted that there was very little furniture in his apartment, and that it contained numerous easels paintings that no one had ever seen. It was not until his later years that art historians and the public began to appreciate Marinko’s contributions to the development of American art through his surrealist paintings. He died in 1989.


Sources:  WPA Artist’s Work Card; WPA Biography; AskART; Raymond W. Smith and Peter Hastings Falk, George Marinko 1908-1989; Pioneer American Surrealist, catalogue for an exhibit at the John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art in New Haven 1989; “George Marinko, 1908-1989,” Waterbury Hall of Fame at,jpg; Social Security Death Index; Who Was Who in American Art (1985), p. 385; Michael Fitzsousa, “Mattatuck Museum Exhibits Connecticut’s Surreal People” and Waterbury Surrealist Still Active at the Age of 80,”Waterbury Sunday Republican, November 27, 1988; “George Marinko Dies; Top Surrealist Painter,” Waterbury Republican, May 25, 1989; Maxine Olderman, “The Life and Times of George Marinko,” New Haven Register, June 4, 1989.

Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from George Marinko:

Moon Ring Phantasy [sic]: oil
Summer Vacation: oil
Mallows or Flower Painting: oil
Picnic at Dawn: oil
Vision in Connecticut: oil
Vermont Barn: oil
The Bridal Bouquet: oil
Twinkle the Miraculous Cat: oil
Barnyard: oil
Morning Light: oil
Deer Hill – Berkshires: oil
Thunder of Silent Deep Heights: oil
Formation of Distant Hours: oil
Early Spring: oil
Gooseberry Hallow: oil
Morning Sun: oil
Sand Dune Landscape: oil
Marinko, George