Monday, August 19, 2013

Ms. Murphy

Catherine Murphy "Self Portrait with Poker Table"   1969

Catherine Murphy is a contemporary American painter who was born in 1946 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Pratt Institute and also studied at Skowhegan. She is one of the most respected realist/figurative painters alive today.  To me she is a wonderful example of finding what you want to do and doing it, and keeping on doing it, despite the vagaries of fashion. Among the many honors she has received are two NEA grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Catherine Murphy "Self Portrait"  1970

Murphy's technique is notoriously, painstakingly, slow in its pace. Some pieces will take many years to complete, especially those where she will only paint on the piece in the few weeks a year, for a few minutes at a time, when an angle of light hits in a particular way. Yet she claims to be a very impatient person, saying, "What I always say is that I’m a compulsive Abstract Expressionist. My pleasure is to be there when the light is right, when that dappling is moving around. Once I become one with the rhythm of that dappling, all desire is satisfied. So I can wait."  

Catherine Murphy "Self Portrait" 1973
She has also said, "... figurative painters have skirted around the issue of being figurative painters. They have said, “Really, I’m an abstract painter, and this is how I’m going to let you know it. I’m going to paint the same egg for the next thirty years, so finally after thirty years you’ll understand that the egg wasn’t really that important. It was the form that was important.” And that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. An apple on a table is an apple on a fucking table. That’s its reality. I know that’s not very fashionable philosophically to have the reading of something be the something that it is. And it is the something that it is—but it’s very much more as well."  (from an interview with Francine Prose, Bomb magazine, 1995

Catherine Murphy "Self-Portraits"  1985
Murphy is married to sculptor Harry Roseman (seen in the 1985 "Self-Portraits" above.) She is known for her still life and landscape as well as her figurative work. Her drawings and paintings hang in major public and private collections around the country including the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,  and the Art Institute of Chicago. She was a Senior Critic in the Painting/Printmaking department at Yale University from 1989-2011 and is now the first endowed faculty chair at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Murphy is represented by Peter Freeman Gallery in NYC. An engaging review of her most recent exhibition can be seen here. 


Heddy said...

It is so refreshing to see a woman paint herself as she really looks when painting, hair pulled into a scarf, blue stockings, aging figure, and all. Not sexy, just real. It is more than a woman in the act of painting, it is a woman in the act of seeing.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Good observation Heddy! Perhaps we might say that she is a woman in the act of seeing a woman in the act of painting...LOL!

Kate Stone said...

"An apple on a table is an apple on a fucking table."

Bahaha! Yes!