Signed (at lower right) Malcolm Morley
and numbered (at lower left) 4/55
Ex. Coll: Private Collection, New York
Like his art, Malcolm Morley is intense and larger-than-life. Born in Stoke Newington, London in 1931, at the time a rough neighborhood, Morley had a difficult childhood, growing up with his mother and a step-father, but never knowing his father. After the London Blitz, he was evacuated to the English countryside where he attended a naval boarding school. By the tender age of 14 he left England to work on a tug. On his return he turned to crime and was incarcerated.
Morley’s interest in painting started in prison. After his release, he spent time working in St. Ives where he was first introduced to the art world. By 1952 he was studying at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and a year later, with the support of patron, he was working alongside Blake, Auerbach and Smith at the Royal College of Art.
Inspired by the groundbreaking exhibition of Abstract Expressionist American Art at the Tate, Morley decided to move to the United States in 1957. In New York Morley became acquainted with the Abstract Expressionists Pollock and DeKooning as well as the next generation of Pop artists including Lichtenstein, Warhol and Newman.
Morley’s art has evolved over his long career. He is perhaps best-known as a pioneer of hyper-realism, a response to Pop Art. In the ’70s his painting became more expressive and colorful. Often he depicts disasters or highly charged situations both man-made and natural including vehicular accidents, scenes from the BLITZ as well scenes from nature. Parrots, a lithograph from 1981, is expressive, colorful and has an implicit sense of danger – the tiger lounges below perching parrots.