"It is possible that illustration and art may one day merge, at some vanishing point in history, but for the moment their aims and purposes are quite different. It seems to be the function of the artist to produce art. The illustrator may use the ideas of the contemporary painter; but it is communication that is his ultimate goal."
Leif Peng's blog, Today's Inspiration mentioned of Murray as a change agent while he was at Cooper Studios--inspiring his fellow illustrators to think a bit differently (which he continues to do today)--in a series of articles on art and the avant guard as it relates to illustration.
"I kind of credit Murray with ruining the Cooper Studio, because he got those guys dissatisfied with what they were doing... they just weren't happy doing illustrations any more. They all wanted to be fine artists."Don Crowley
Murray told us about that period of time. He had joined the Cooper Studio as a decorative illustrator, not a boy/girl, romantic painter. He was also taking classes with the man who taught him everything about teaching, about critiquing--the man that formed the younger Murray into the tiger we know today. His friends, compatriots and beyond peers, people who, as Murray gestured, were a lot like what's going on here (the great converging of students where we all grow from each other--energy that is consuming)--came to visit Murray in his studio. These are guys that could make the beautiful illustrations of luscious women, or the "here's a very handsome young man (show him), who surprised the light his life (show her) etc. These were the guys who made romance even more romantic...and there was Murray, in his off time, making abstract expressionist paintings that were being shown at major galleries in NYC. And so it began. Then they all started taking classes with Murray's teacher. They started talking the talk. Hanging out at certain bars looking to bump into the real thing, the real abstract expressionists--like DeKooning.They started painting with broader, more energetic (not tight and controlled) brush strokes. Those beautiful lips that these skilled men painted, the lips of angels, became a slash of red. At that same time, there was a migration of illustrators from San Francisco and the midwest. The Cooper Studio style of telling the story literally with illustration changed with the advent of these new adds to the NYC community. What became hip at that time was more conceptual, less literal illustration-- Robert Weaver being one of these new illustrators.
4:30 p.m Aside:
Murray clarified that his teacher was Reuben Tam (1916-1911)--who taught at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Mr. Tam was kind of in the middle of the spectrum of painters at the time with his landscape work. He really did not gain much recognition for his work. However, he taught and influenced as we learn--a wide stripe of people who did gain recognition as artists and illustrators. The River Gallery recognizes him this way:
Reuben Tam, a native of Hawaii, has been called a "man of two islands." He trained originally in Hawii, but lived in Manhattan and summered fro many years on Monhegan Island. He exhibited quite extensively throughout the U.S. at major museums and galleries, including VMFA, CI, Corcoran Gallery, LACMA, AIC, MMA, and the Downtown Gallery. He won numerous awards, and his work has been acquired by institutions such as MOMA, MMA, BM, and the NYPL.
More (I hope)..