Marcel Dzama: Biography

Since rising to prominence in the late 1990s, Marcel Dzama has developed an immediately recognizable visual language that investigates human action and motivation, as well as the blurred relationship between the real and the subconscious. Drawing equally from folk vernacular as from art-historical and contemporary influences, Dzama’s work visualizes a universe of childhood fantasies and otherworldly fairy tales.

Dzama was born in 1974 in Winnipeg, Canada, where he received his BFA in 1997 from the University of Manitoba. Since 1998, his work has been represented by David Zwirner. The artist has had fourteen solo exhibitions with the gallery, including Puppets, Pawns, and Prophets which was his first presentation at the London location in 2013 and was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by Hatje Cantz, with an essay by Deborah Solomon. In 2014, David Zwirner presented a solo exhibition of Dzama’s work at the gallery in New York, which marked the United States debut of his film Une danse des bouffons (or A jester’s dance). In 2016, the gallery held two exhibitions in New York and London dedicated to the collaborative works by Dzama and Raymond Pettibon. Crossing the Line, marking the artist’s first solo presentation in Greater China, was on view at the Hong Kong gallery in 2019. David Zwirner Online presented Pink Moon, an online exhibition of Dzama’s work in 2020, and in July of the same year, Blue Moon of Morocco was featured at the gallery's Paris location. In 2021, Marcel Dzama: Who Loves the Sun was presented at the gallery’s 69th Street location in New York. In 2022, David Zwirner, London presented Marcel Dzama: Child of Midnight

Dzama has exhibited widely in solo and group presentations throughout the United States and abroad. In 2022, a solo presentation of the artist's work, Marcel Dzama: Viviendo en el limbo y soñando con el paraíso was on view at the Museo de Arte de Zapopan (MAZ), Mexico. Marcel Dzama: An End to the End Times was on view in 2021 at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Georgia. In 2021, the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland presented a solo exhibition of the artist’s work entitled Marcel Dzama: Tonight We Dance

In 2018, the solo exhibition Ya es hora was presented at Galería Helga de Alvear in Madrid and A Jester’s Dance was shown at University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2017, La Casa Encendida in Madrid exhibited Drawing on a Revolution, a solo show of the artist’s work. In 2015, the artist’s film Une danse des bouffons (or A jester’s dance) was presented alongside related two- and three-dimensional work in a solo show at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis. In 2010, a major survey of the artist's work was held at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in Montreal.

Other solo exhibitions include those organized by Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2014); Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid (2013); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain; Museo de Arte de Zapopan (MAZ), Mexico; World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum, St. Louis (all 2012); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (both 2011); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England (2006); and Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France (2005).

In 2021, MTA Arts & Design unveiled a commissioned mosaic by the artist, No Less Than Everything Comes Together, that will permanently be on view at the Bedford Avenue Station in Brooklyn, New York.


In 2016, the artist created the costume and stage design for New York City Ballet’s The Most Incredible Thing, a performance based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. Coinciding with the performance, Dzama also created an installation in the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater as part of the New York City Ballet Art Series, titled The tension around which history is built.

In 2013, Abrams published the first comprehensive monograph of the artist’s work, titled Marcel Dzama: Sower of Discord. Produced and designed in collaboration with the artist, it features contributions by Bradley Bailey, Dave Eggers, Spike Jonze, and Raymond Pettibon.

Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Dallas Museum of Art; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Dzama lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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