Morris Museum of Art

Augusta, Georgia



Philip Morsberger: Paintings and Drawings from the Sixties

January 27 - March 19, 2000



A selected group of Philip Morsberger's paintings and drawings from the 1960s will go on exhibit January 27 at the Morris Museum of Art. Figurative paintings heavily influenced by the political climate and pop art trends of the 1960s will offer audiences a different perspective on the work of Morsberger, the Morris Eminent Scholar in Art at Augusta State University, who now paints primarily abstract works. The artist will present a slide lecture at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 30, with light refreshments following. Admission on Sundays is always free. There will also be a reception on Thursday, February 3, spotlighting both the Morsberger exhibit and a concurrent exhibit of works by the late William Halsey. (left: November 22, 1963, Butler Institute of American Art)

The Morsberger exhibition features paintings drawn primarily from the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, with additional works borrowed from Miami University Art Museum, Oxford, Ohio; Columbus Museum, Columbus, Ohio; and Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio. These works were initially brought together last winter for an exhibition at the Miami University Art Museum, where the event was something of a homecoming for Morsberger, a time of reconnecting with an earlier stage in his career as an artist and faculty member at that university.

The works on exhibit might seem far removed from the abstract paintings Morsberger is creating today. Since moving from California to the Southeast in 1996, the artist says he has been "perfectly content just moving color around and trying to orchestrate it . . . free of any other considerations such as narrative implications." In remarks he made at the Miami University exhibition last February, he observed that during the heyday ofabstract expressionism, when American art was center stage, he went to England, following Ruskin's prescriptions for the training of an artist, drawing from the Greek and Roman sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. (right: Hey, Let's Have Some Red Man!, Butler Institute of American Art)

When he returned to America, to Ohio, the pop art movement was "celebrating exuberant meaninglessness." He, however, was drawn to paint darker scenes of individual isolation, the assassination of President Kennedy, reflections on Vietnam and the Civil Rights struggle. Later, in California, he made narrative paintings when conceptualism was the rage; and now, living in the South where, as he observes, there is a "deep-rooted literary tradition and an understandable fondness for narrative painting," he is painting the abstract expressionist works he refused to do in the 1950s.

In January of 1997, when a small exhibit of his "Augusta" abstract paintings was presented at the Morris Museum, Morsberger stated that his work is always in transition. "It is quite a ride, and I am grateful to be taking it," he said. In presenting these earlier works, the Morris Museum of Art revisits one of the significant stops on his artistic ride.

Born in Maryland in 1933, Philip Morsberger studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and received the B.F.A. degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1958 he was awarded the Certificate in Fine Art, with Distinction, from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University in England. Returning to the United States, he accepted a faculty position at Miami University in Ohio, remaining there until 1968 when he became artist in residence at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.Twelve years after graduating from the Ruskin School, he was called back to Oxford, where he served 13 years as the Ruskin Master of Drawing at Oxford University--the sixth person and only American ever to hold that chair. From 1987 until 1996, he held an appointment at the California College of Arts and Crafts as professor of painting and President's Fellow. (left: The Children's Hour, The Columbus Museum of Fine Arts)

Morsberger has received numerous honors and awards, and his work has been widely exhibited. He is represented in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Columbus Museum of Art, Butler Institute of American Art, Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, and the City University of London, among others. (left: Family Group, Butler Institute of American Art)

The exhibition was initiated by Richard Gruber, former deputy director of the Morris Museum of Art, prior to his becoming director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Gruber also wrote an essay for the exhibition catalogue. The works will remain on exhibit through March 19.


Events for Philip Morsberger: Paintings and Drawings from the Sixties

Thursday, January 27

Opening for Philip Morsberger: Paintings and Drawings from the Sixties. (Please see Sunday, January 30, for details of a special presentation by the artist.)

Friday, January 28

At the Mary Pauline Gallery: A Passion for Painting: Works from the 50s, 70s, 80s, and 90s by Philip Morsberger. The Mary Pauline Gallery introduces fifty years of Philip Morsberger's work. While in Augusta, Mr. Morsberger has been painting abstract canvases with exuberant energy. This exhibition explores his life and works including drawings, prints, and paintings executed by the artist from 1950 to 2000. Morsberger's work reflects the influences of people, places, and experiences throughout his lengthy artistic life and career. The Mary Pauline Gallery is located at 982 Broad Street, Augusta. The reception will be held 5:00-9:00 p.m., and the artist will be present. Admission is free. Reservations are not required.

Sunday, January 30

At the Morris Museum of Art: Acts of Violence and Moments of Tranquility: An Artist Remembers the 60s. Mr. Morsberger will introduce his Morris Museum show with a slide lecture at 2:00 p.m. followed by light refreshments in the lobby. Admission is free on Sundays. Reservations are not required.

Thursday, February 3

At the Morris Museum of Art: Philip Morsberger will be on hand to discuss his new show with visitors. The concurrent show, William Halsey, will be featured in a slide lecture by Martha Severens, curator of the Greenville County Museum of Art at 6:15 p.m. Members' preview begins at 5:00 p.m.; 6:00 p.m. for non-members. Free for members; $5.00 for non-members. Reservations are not required.


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