Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Art Space Talk: Herbert Murrie

I recently interviewed artist Herbert Murrie. Mr. Murrie firmly believes that chance dictates intuition. This philosophy describes the foundation of his artistic practice- no absolute concepts catalyze his paintings.

Mr. Murrie embraces the view that a single stroke of paint can communicate more to an observer than the written word. In his view, the written word is tainted with commonality whereas a painting holds the essence of the creator. Thus, the instinct of a painter creates a form of communication that is unique... yet universal.

Mr. Murrie's work has been exhibited widely in Illinois. He currently lives and works in Chicago. His art can be found in many private and corporate collections throughout the city.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Probably when my parents got me into an art school at the age of nine. Up until that time I was content to draw WW II air battles between German Luftwaffer and American fighter planes."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I think it is impossible for an artist not to be influenced in some way by what is going on in the world they live in. I just can’t explain how that has influenced my art. Only very recently have I allowed my frustration and anger creep into my work speaking to the brutality of and lack of compassion we as humans have toward one another. "No Lie Can Live Forever" is the painting I am referring to. It includes the disasters of Vietnam to Katrina."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Every piece has it‘s own timetable. I have finished paintings in less then a day and have finally been satisfied that a painting is done after a year of seeing it sitting there in the studio thinking it was finished long ago yet feeling very deep in my subconscious that it was not there. I remember reading where DeKooning was asked once when he knew a painting was finished and he answered, "When my dealer rips it out of the studio". I feel that way most of the time."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "My first! That is the most exciting time. Like a first love, never to be forgotten. The fact that the show almost sold out added greatly to the excitement."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Well, if I have been out of the studio for a period of time; say a week or two because I’ve burned myself out a little preparing for a show. I get myself psyched by first cleaning and organizing things in the studio. That starts the juices again. Music plays a very important roll in my art. All kinds of music from Mozart to Dylan. As a matter of fact I get most of my titles for my paintings from the lyrics of music as well as from lines of poetry. Music relies on an established structure, one that allows for infinite expression of guttural emotion. That liberty within form inspires my own explorations in painting."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "Probably people who feel the flow of energy that I’m trying to create thru my painting, consciously or subconsciously."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. ""Marilyn"(image above). Having had a secret love affair with Marilyn Monroe for many years (in my imagination) I started out by evoking her in black and white as a force of nature, a complex storm with subtle ebbs and flows. I always think of Marilyn in black and white, more sensuous and mysterious, more real. Isn’t it strange that when I see film in black and white it has a feeling of reality where as in reality we live in a world of color. Probably an influence from childhood when I sat in the movie theater and the WW II news films were, of course, in black and white. That was real life, not Hollywood ."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I graduated from The University of Illinois with a BFA. I was very fortunate to have some very fine professors who I credit with my forming a good solid foundation in painting. Learn the rules before you can break them, I think Picasso said that; if not, credit me with that one."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "My first art teacher was a fine water colorist. Being only nine years old at the time I think she felt that oil was a more forgiving medium, certainly more forgiving then water color. From that point on it has, until recently, been my medium of choice. With the development of my abstract style I now find common house paint mixed in with acrylics to be more convenient for what I’m trying to accomplish."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "http://www.herbertmurrie.com/"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I’m represented by The Tucker gallery located in Evanston , Illinois."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in?

A. "Lydon Fine Art Gallery / Chicago , Illinois
Zolla-Leiberman Gallery / Chicago , Illinois
Sloan-Jordan Gallery / Austin , Texas "

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Anything goes! For the most part I think that is a good thing. That’s how out of the box thinking gets its legs. I think most of it will fad away and the cream will come to the top as with most new things or trends. Few will last but in the interim artists like me can cherry pick those things that do excite us and learn from it. Let some of it filter into our own thinking and work."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Keep an open mind! Work very hard at your art! Go with your gut!"

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "No, but I’m sure a lot of people would like to."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "There is no one toughest point. That goes on all the time. Its doubt, indecision, criticism. You just keep on going and enjoy the victories when they come. Those very precious moments when you look at a painting and say, Wow, did I do that?...How did I do that?...especially after a few months or year and you can still say that."

Q. Why do you create art?

A. "I don’t know how to do anything else. It really is what I am, good bad or indifferent. I don’t have a choice in the matter."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Chicago is a fantastic arena for the arts. It’s all here. Not as boisterous as the two coasts but never-the-less here!"

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?
A. "Only recently, as I have become more and more disappointed and outraged about the way we’re going."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Herbert Murrie. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Henry Feldman, Jr. said...


Well done interview and very persuasive.

The work you are doing seems inspired. I'm ready for another viewing.

Henry Feldman