visual arts

Painter Catherine Murphy is the first endowed faculty chair at Mason Gross School of the Arts

Comforter by Catherine Murphy
Comforter, oil on canvas by Catherine Murphy

The Rutgers University Board of Governors has approved the selection of artist Catherine Murphy of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as the first endowed faculty chair at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.

The position, known formally as the Tepper Family Endowed Chair in Visual Arts, was created as the result of a generous $3.4 million gift from Rutgers College alumna Marlene A. Tepper and her husband, David A. Tepper, of Livingston, N.J.

“The Visual Arts Selection Committee could not have come up with a better painter than Catherine Murphy,” Mason Gross Dean George B. Stauffer says. “She has won distinction in the United States and abroad, and she is a passionate artist and teacher. Our students will benefit greatly from her critiques of their work.”

Ms. Murphy’s intensely detailed paintings and pencil drawings of everyday life—a woman reclining beneath a striped comforter,  a cake sitting in the oven, a shattered drinking glass atop a pool of spilled liquid—have been variously described as “sparkling,” “meticulous” (New York Magazine) and “monumental yet tenderly intimate” (The New York Times). Her work appears in multiple public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, all in New York City, as well as in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and The Phillips Collection, both in Washington, D.C. Her work has been featured in two Whitney Biennials (1973 and 1995).

The Cambridge, Mass., native was born in 1946 and received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in 1967; she attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in the summer of 1966. Ms. Murphy has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts grants (1979 and 1989), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982), and in 2002 became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has served as senior critic in painting and printmaking at Yale University School of Art for more than two decades.

Rutgers has attracted numerous top-notch scholars and teachers by establishing faculty chairs. A faculty chair may be extended to outstanding professors, within the university or from the outside, who have demonstrated consistent excellence in teaching, research and public service. The endowment may support salary as well as research projects and travel to conferences.

Diane Neumaier, chair of the Mason Gross School’s Visual Arts Department, says Ms. Murphy will be an asset to all of the department’s programs.

“In addition to being a highly regarded painter, Catherine is well known for her dynamic and energetic studio engagement with undergraduate and graduate students in all mediums,” Neumaier says. “From painting and graphic arts, to media arts and sculpture, Catherine’s knowledge of contemporary art will benefit each discipline of our program.”

Above: Comforter, 2007, oil on canvas, 54”x 72,” © Catherine Murphy/courtesy Knoedler & Company, New York. View more of Ms. Murphy's work.

Media inquiries: Laurie Granieri, 848-932-5239.