biography of Gérald MURPHY (1888-1964)

Birth place: Boston

Addresses: France, 1921-34

Profession: Painter, designer

Studied: Natalia Goncharova, Paris, 1921

Exhibited: Dallas Mus. Art, 1960; MoMA, 1974 (retrospective); Avant-Garde Painting and Sculpture in America," Univ. of Del., 1975"

Work: MoMA; Dallas (TX) Mus. Art

Comments: Murphy painted only fourteen works in his lifetime, made while the wealthy Bostonian was living in France in the 1920s. There he and his wife were part of the very social, trendy aristic circle that included Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (who used Murphy and his wife as modeled Diver of Tender is the Night), the Hemingways, the Dos Passos, and others. While taking art lessons with Goncharova in 1921, Murphy helped repaint the fire-damaged sets for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. His own paintings emerged soon after and consist mostly of still lifes, remarkable because of their subject matter, usually consisting of ordinary commercial objects such as razors and watches, for their flat, abstract treatment, which bears similarity to the work of Stuart Davis, and for their affinity with advertising art, which pre-dates Pop Art. Also in Paris, Murphy designed the scenario, decor, and costumes for the ballet Within the Quota" (1923). Murphy's paintings were largely forgotten until five were shown at the Dallas Mus. in 1960.

Sources: William Rubin, The Paintings of Gerald Murphy (exh. cat., MoMA, 1974); A. Davidson, Early American Modernist Painting, 283-86; Baigell, Dictionary; W. Homer, Avant-Garde Painting and Sculpture in America; also, there are several biographies on Gerald Murphy, including Calvin Tomkins, Living Well is the Best Revenge (New York, 1972)."