Philip Morsberger paintings
october 31 – december 8, 2013
A strong spirit of the familial pervades Philip Morsberger’s work. The artist in many ways seems to have impishly conflated his own mythology and attendant symbols, arising from his childhood and remembrances, with those of Christianity and psychoanalysis. The paintings can also have the quality of isolated, humorous episodes from newspaper cartoons, which he’s always paid attention to, and from which he has derived certain Pop elements. Morsberger’s recent work does not willfully begin as either abstract or figurative, but figures do frequently emerge from areas of applied color. As tempting and justifiable as it might be for the viewer to see many of these figures as self-portraits, the artist is reticent about this assignment of meaning. Perhaps, like clouds for school children, the paintings are the unwitting recipients of our projections.
Born in 1933 in Baltimore, Md., Philip Morsberger studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he received a BFA in 1954, followed by a Certificate in Fine Art from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England, in 1958. Upon his return to America he joined the faculty of art at Miami University in 1959, where he taught until 1968. He returned to England and in 1978 was appointed the Ruskin Master of Drawing at Oxford, where he established their BFA program. Returning to the United States in 1984, Morsberger spent two years in Minnesota before moving to Berkeley, Calif., serving first at UC Berkeley as the Chair of Fine Art, and then as President’s Fellow in Painting and Drawing at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and San Francisco. In 1996 he was appointed William S. Morris Eminent Scholar in Art at Augusta State University (Augusta, GA; emeritus since 2002). His work is included in collections of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, the Butler Institute of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Columbus Museum of Art (OH), and the Morris Museum of Art (Augusta, GA).
Paul Bright, Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery Director
Wim Roefs, ifArt, Columbia, SC