Peter Freeman, Inc. presents an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Catherine Murphy, the artist’s first solo show since the release of a major new monograph on her work, written by John Yau with a foreword by Svetlana Alpers, and published by Skira/Rizzoli in collaboration with the gallery.
In her paintings and drawings, Murphy’s career-long interest has been in decoding reality as a place of constant and inevitable change, realizing abstract ideas through the exploration of everyday objects and situations. She inverts the viewer’s expectations and blurs boundaries—between interior and exterior, flatness and depth, background and foreground—and in doing so, upsets assumptions about the places she represents and the people who live their lives in them. In the newest works, Murphy has looked to her immediate surroundings both within and outside of her own home, continuing—in a profoundly personal way—a keen interest in depicting the most common surroundings that usually escape our notice but nevertheless influence our perception.
Instead of stable, conventional spaces, Murphy often sets up specifically-defined formal situations. With a Minimalist formal rigor, her starting point is scale and geometry: yet her colors, patterns, and textures all bear information and narrative potential. Her depiction of an immediate, often intimate moment, establishes an implied open-ended narrative.
Catherine Murphy was born in 1946 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and currently lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York. Murphy studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1967. She was awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grants (in 1979 and 1989), a Guggenheim Fellowship (in 1982), and was elected a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 2002. In 2014 she was awarded the Robert de Niro Sr. prize for distinguished mid-career American artists. Her work is included in over 30 museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.