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The artist I am going to be focusing on is Gerald Murphy. He was born on March 25, 1888 and died October 17, 1964. He was born in Boston to the family that owned the Mark Cross Company, sellers of fine leather goods. He was of an Irish American background. Gerald was esthete from his childhood forward. It is said that he was never comfortable in the boardrooms and clubs for which his father was grooming him. He flunked the Yale entrance exams three times before being admitted, although his performance was respectable during his time there. He joined DKE and the Skull and Bones society. He married Sara Wiborg in 1915 despite the objections from the parents on either side. Pablo Picasso, a friend of Sara’s painted her in several of his 1923 works.


The piece of art I am writing about is Watch. It is an abstract representation of two different watches that had special associations for Murphy. One was a railroad watch designed for his family’s company. The other watch was a gold pocket watch given to him by his wife Sara. The painting is done on canvas with oil paints. I am guessing that it was done with a brush, as I can’t find any specific reference to this. He engages aspects of Cubism by overlapping the interior and exterior components of the watch and abstracting his subject matter into flat, geometric forms. The painting is predominately composed of circles and curved lines. The focal point is very robust, although the center is a small square. The colors are mostly metallic shades of greys, but there are bits of golden yellows and burnt copper to represent the two different watch casings. This is Gerald Murphy’s largest work, measuring 78 ½ x 78 7/8 inches. www.artnet.com_magazine_features_robinson_images_robinson4-23-4.jpg


Gerald Murphy painted Watch in 1925, in the middle of his painting career, as he only painted from 1921 until 1929, he was influenced by the pop art movement that contained pop culture imagery such as mundane objects culled from American commercial products and advertising design. He was also just generally fascinated with modern machinery’s complexity and efficiency. “I am always struck by the mystery and depth of the interiors of a watch – it’s multiplicity, variety, and feeling of movements and man’s grasp at perpetuity” – Gerald Murphy


At the time of painting Watch, Gerald Murphy was living in the French Riviera. The climate is Mediterranean, with sunny, hot, dry summers and mild winters. It is the coastline, so there is a lovely oceanic view, as well as mountains and sprawling valleys. I don’t believe that any of this influenced Murphy while he painted Watch. It is quoted “For Gerald Murphy, this fascination with time was compounded by a personal interest in American manufactured consumer goods and gadgetry which extended into his other artwork and his life.” This lead me to believe that his influences were primarily American based, not of French influence.


I believe that the biggest factor influencing Gerald Murphy is the Who aspect of everything. He paints about what he is interested in, and his relation to Pablo Picasso and other artists around him at that time also lead to the work that he did in his time. The purpose of the art is for the artist to further explore his interest and curiosity in the inner workings of a watch, as well as other mechanical things


I like this piece of art because of its portrayal of something mechanical. This piece of work caught my eye from across the room despite everything else I was surrounded by. I have always been fascinated by anything that moves mechanically, so from a distance, I could see the gears and sprockets, and decided that this was the one. This is the piece that stood out to me. I enjoy knowing how and why something works. I believe that the Cubism used in this painting really added to its uniqueness, without it, it would just be more of a technical drawing.

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