Hand painted fiberglass resin 2011
A multidisciplinary artist whose works range from fiberglass post-apocalyptic creatures to delicate bronze figures to a 90-foot herd of thundering copper horses, Davis Murphy’s years of travel and study have created a world of intensely personal, unorthodox visions.
Max Kahn, a family friend and head of the Printmaking Department at the Art Institute of Chicago, advised 18 year-old Murphy to continue his studies at Pratt Institute in NYC after seeing his portfolio. His education there focused on classical drawing, sculpture in clay, and copper and steel welding learned outside the classroom from a friend.
After Pratt Murphy moved to Miami, worked a job making copper sculptures, and having sailed since childhood, gravitated to the Coconut Grove boat basin. The Grove was the art center of Miami in the 1970s, Murphy purchased and lived aboard a refugee boat big enough to create sculpture on. After a few months he took a cross country trip that made stops in New Orleans, Austin, and San Diego. He eventually landed in Oregon carving faces and figures out of logs on the mist shrouded rocky shores.
Back in Florida, Davis was living in the Keys making sculpture, then made his way to Miami taking figure drawing classes at FIU, Dade South College, and from University of Miami Professor Eugene Massin, who had been a student of Max Kahn’s in the 1950s.
Gravitating to sculpture again from drawing, Murphy returned to Pratt to take master degree classes and sharpen his abilities in the highly charged, art centric environment of Manhattan. There he created his series of “flying people” – wire mesh creatures draped in hot oil paint soaked canvas.
Seeking space, he relocated to a waterfront studio in downtown Miami. This became his home base for a decade. He co-founded Artifacts/Wet Paint, an experimental gallery, and contributed to major nightclub art environments and installations during the South Beach art explosion. Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine hired the gallery’s stable of artists for a two-week mission; a photographic investigation of the city's art and nightlife.
Seeking to work more with the “hard stuff”, Murphy’s skills of 16th century metallurgy and the electric world of Miami art emboldened his technique of multiple heatings and manipulating of forms. Melting bronze over castings and copper and brass sheet, his new work birthed a visceral life-like outer "skin" supported by steel and copper armatures.
He has been commissioned to do artwork for designer Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Delta Airlines, artist Prince, is in the collections of Limelight Studios, Telemundo Miami, 20th Century Fox Pictures and he was recently comissioned to provide artwork for the hit movie Marley & Me starring Jennifer Aniston. His artwork with the 5 Diamond Luxury resorts Kessler Collection, www.kesslercollection.com, includes life-size "extreme" mountain climbers ascending a 60-foot atrium for their hotel in Vail; a series of 18-foot copper stallions galloping across a Colorado canyon; as well as commissions for their other luxury properties in Savannah, Taos and Orlando. Murphy’s work can currently be seen at galleries in Southampton NY, Naples, North Salem, New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, CA and Montreal.