Amherst Magazine

Peter Marks ’56

Peter Marks ’56 died June 13, 2010.
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Peter Marks died at his home on June 13, 2010, after a two-year battle with cancer. Except for his four years at Amherst, Peter lived his life in New York City. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art. After a brief stint in publishing, he opened a gallery, Peter Marks Works of Art, Inc., specializing in Southeast Asian and Islamic antiquities. As a dealer, he made important contributions to the field of Asian art. Peter also made important contributions to the Mead Art Museum: from 1965 to 1986, he made gifts of 26 works of art, including bowls, pots, a vase, ceremonial axes and knives, a bracelet, fragments from friezes and sculpted figures. 

            Peter was motivated by a strong desire to find great art and to make it available to large audiences. His description of traveling in the jungles of Madagascar was fascinating and might have made a novel. Peter didn’t write that one, but he did publish three others: Collector’s Choice (1972), Hang Ups (1973) and Skullduggery (1987). He also wrote screenplays with his brother Walter ’55; one, The Butler Did It, was produced off-Broadway.

            Peter retired from art dealing in 2002. He then transformed his Manhattan gallery space into a studio, where he painted large non-figurative canvasses. This was an extraordinarily happy time in Peter’s life. It was not retirement but fulfillment. 

            Peter is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jean; son Ben ’88, daughter-in-law Elizabeth Morrison ’90 and their children, Sophie and Eli; daughter Annie; and son Sam and daughter-in-law Lauren Pesso. He is also survived by his brother Walter and sister-in-law Joan Brooker.  

            Peter voiced disappointment that he was probably the only member of our class to have a career in the fine arts. That may be true, but considering his accomplishments in that field, perhaps we needed only one.

—Dick Hauser ’56


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