Menken, Marie (1910–1970) By Suárez, Juan A.
Marie Menken was a New York-based experimental filmmaker who produced her main work during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Brooklyn to an immigrant Lithuanian family, she attended the New York School of Fine and Industrial Arts and the Art Students’ League, where she was trained as a painter, her original vocation. After finishing her studies, she worked as a secretary to Hilla Rebay, first director and chief curator of the Museum for Non-Objective Painting (later renamed Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum). In 1936 she was granted a summer residency at the Yaddo artist colony in upstate New York, where she met Willard Maas (1907–1970), another resident, then a rising poet and editor. They married the following year and stayed together for the rest of their lives in a complex, at times embattled, relationship that led to fruitful artistic collaboration. By Maas’s own account, their interest in film was spurred by their friend Norman McLaren, the Scottish animator who lived in New York during the war years before moving to Canada to direct the Animation Division of the National Film Board.