ESSAYS ON ART > Note for the RCAA newsletter
Note for the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts newsletter
While I was researching my first book, Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s, three or four artists caught my attention, in part by the absence of a monograph on their work. Of these, Robert Murray was the most interesting to me. I had known of him, and his work, my whole life; he had been part of the first group of artists to fabricate sculpture with my father at Lippincott, Inc., when the company opened in the mid-sixties. I reconnected with Bob while I was writing Large Scale, and after the book was published we gave several lectures together. When I visited his studio at his home in Pennsylvania and saw his archive of photographs documenting his work, I knew that these could be the basis of a comprehensive monograph. I spent about five years writing the book, while working full-time, and freelancing, as a book designer. I did most of my research in Murray’s studio, talking with him; reading books, catalogs and magazines; and looking at photographs. I also did research at the New York Public Library. Over the years we visited several museums and private collections to see his work.
In designing Robert Murray: Sculpture, I wanted to evoke the catalogs and art books of the 1960s and ’70s, the era when many of these sculptures were built and the modern public art movement flourished. The display type is Helvetica, itself an icon of modernism, and the book has an open and clean design, very much focused on the artwork. The plates section of the book draws on the artist’s photo archive, and shows his sculptures in his studio, during fabrication, at exhibitions, and in private collections, giving the reader an understanding of their actual size, and the chance to imagine experiencing the works in person. The texts provide an art historical framework for Murray’s life and work: the introduction gives a biographical overview, discussing his education and professional career; the interview allows the artist to speak directly about his thoughts on sculpture, his working practice, and his influences. The images in these two sections also provide context, showing friends and colleagues, fabricators, artwork and installations.