Todd Murphy American, 1962-2020


"Art is not about the right color on the right surface; it's about synthesizing one's experience"


- Todd Murphy

For more than three decades, Todd Murphy synthesized a wide range of mediums including sculpture, painting, film, drawing and photography in mystifying combinations. Existing between anthropology and avant-garde aesthetics, the artist’s inventive mixed media works draw from revisionist histories, literary archetypes, and philosophy as a means to explore the complexities of human identity.


With the inquisitiveness of a 19th-century naturalist, Murphy has traveled to the far reaches of the world, collecting, photographing, and fastidiously cataloging everything from melting glaciers, to aviary species, to exotic fruit. His photographic studies of curiosities become sources for complex narratives based on philosophy, mythology, and the supernatural. In his work, Murphy often goes beyond these classical prototypes to include subtexts of bigotry, Southern history, and fantastic literary stories. In the end, his recurring protagonists — horses, birds, dresses, and boats — are poetic vehicles for a humanistic discourse.


Todd Murphy was born in Chicago, later living and working in New York. After studying art at the University of Georgia, he inaugurated his artistic career in Atlanta and continued to show in Atlanta, in addition to New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Virginia, Seoul, South Korea and elsewhere. His work is in many prestigious international private and museum collections including The High Museum of Art, The New Orleans Museum, and The Tampa Museum of Art. Beginning in the late eighties, Murphy’s enigmatic work was distinguished by an Abstract Expressionist scale and gesture applied to figurative images. These iconic figures came to heroically dominate his canvases and Plexiglas paintings - many colossal in scale and immersive in nature.


His earliest works were birthed from experimentations with 35mm slides - placing one atop or overlapping another - resulting in an illusionary, prismatic technique. This method would later characterize his approach to both his fictional, historical, and biogeographical subjects encompassing Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett, Homer’s Ulysses, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and various species of exotic wildlife.


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