Because Marquis is a collector and his collections are vast, they are important in terms of understanding his work. His collecting “categories” include Model A Ford Trucks, Studebakers, metal advertising signs, old pump insect sprayers, rubber squeeze toys, saltshakers, graniteware, anything with a Mexican siesta or English setter motif, Aloha shirts (Marquis sold this collection to the musician Rod Stewart), push-button knives, paint-by-numbers paintings, burnt match furniture, outboard motors, old slide viewers, Christmas bubble lights, kids’ chemistry sets from the 1940s and 1950s, Fiesta tableware, old cans, bamboo fly rods, fat pencils, and expired, unexposed film. Vintage bowling balls, repurposed as building blocks, are stacked in a large pyramid next to the studio that, with his house and an assortment of outbuildings and containers, defines Marquis’s island compound.
The “Fabricated Weird” series from the early 1980s signaled a new direction for Marquis. These pieces, which Marquis calls “visual notes,” were quickly assembled from the things that surrounded him in his studio, such as broken pieces of glass, found objects, and pieces of murrine cane.