PORTRAIT COMMISSION OF DEAN JEROME MURPHY
Dean Jerome T. Murphy
44 x 22 Oil and wax on marine plywood,
commissioned by Harvard University.
Click to go to his Harvard web page
The Dean Murphy Portrait Artist's Statement
The balance that I sought in portraying Jerry Murphy was between the following somewhat divergent characteristics that I have observed about him.
Jerry Murphy is a man of action who is dignified while possessing a sweetness, great determination and stamina. Observing him over time one sees a person who connects with each individual while thinking about how to include that person in a group effort.
From an artistic point of view I wanted to move some of what has gone before in portraiture. In this case it meant that rather than representing the individual as a likeness surrounded by the trappings of his or her office, I endeavored to set up a psychological tension in the image that reflects divergent qualities I mentioned at the start.
How to achieve these goals:
As in all my portraits, technically I set up a tension on the two dimensional picture plane through he use of color and arrangement of the image in the rectangle.
The grey background and the crowding of the image on the rectangle allow Murphy to stand in his own human space. The warmth of the grey creates perspective because of the coolness in the color of the black suit.
The subject connects with the viewer by making eye contact and gesturing as if at the end of a phrase.
The danger of the hands distracting from the face is dealt with by the use of color in the tie shirt and suit. The complicated design of the tie competes with the hands to visually hold their potential distraction down.