Murray Jones (1915-1964) was an abstract expressionist painter who lived and worked in Michigan and Ohio. Born in Durham, NC, Jones entered the Chicago Art Institute in the mid-1930s where he studied painting, drawing and the graphic arts. He graduated with an MFA degree in 1939. After serving in the US Army during WW II, Jones took a teaching position at Michigan State University where he taught until 1962 at which time he accepted a professorship at Ohio State University. He died two years later at the age of 49. While previous exhibitions of Jones's art have focused on his late, most mature work, this show pays more attention to the early work, and the overall course of his artistic career from the end of WW II until his death.
Jones' work, from his emergence from the Chicago Art Institute until his death, was engaged with various mainstream issues in the art of his time. In the 1940s, he was immersed in the influences of Surrealism as a vehicle for social commentary, and as a vehicle for engaging the subconscious, In the late 40s and early 50s, his interest in the unconscious saw a move away from figurative imagery and gradual immersion in pure abstraction. With the advent of abstract expressionism, Jones found a context to employ both deft drawing skills and a highly nuanced sense of composition in an increasingly fluid gestural manner. Long an avid experimenter of new media, Jones settled, by the early 1950s, on the use of automotive lacquer as his paint medium of choice. In this laters period he also began to explore the use of collage elements in his paintings.
From 1959-61, Jones lived and worked in Kyoto Japan under the sponsorship of a Fullbright Research Fellowship. It was during this period that he discovered the rich variety of traditional Japanese papers. As a result, his employment of collaged elements in his work increased dramatically with paper elements offering wide ranging textural options and the lacquer paint serving as both the glue medium and vehicle for color. Greatly influenced by the quiet nuances of natural materials pervasive in traditional Japanese architecture, Jones' palette became more subtle and subdued. The influence of Japanese lacquer ware, screen paintings and religious painting saw the inclusion of metallic powders in paint washes as a vehicle to make his work process more spontaneous and the finished paintings increasingly abstract and atmospheric.
During his lifetime, Jones exhibited primarily in Detroit and Chicago, and was included in the 1961 Carnegie International as well as various other national group shows. His work is in the permanent collections of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, Columbus Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Dayton Art Institute, Ohio State University, Michigan State University and numerous private collections.
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