Biography of Malcolm Morley
Winning the inaugural Turner Prize in 1984, Malcolm Morley's hyperrealist style has earned him international acclaim and immense popularity. Famous for his reproduced photorealist paintings of airplane kits on large canvasses, Morley has also experimented with collages, watercolors, and performances. He has been termed a photorealist—he prefers his self-coined phrase superrealist—and has been at the heart of the contemporary question about the validity of figuration versus abstraction.
Malcolm Morley was born in 1931 and some of his earliest memories are of the Blitz in London. It is no surprise much of his work and its recurring motifs reflect the violence and destruction he witnessed. His upbringing was troublesome and he even served time in prison for petty theft, but his talent won him a place at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the highly selective Royal Academy of Art. Fascinated by Abstract Expressionism, Morley left England in 1958 and moved to New York City and became deeply influenced by Barnett Newman, Andy Warhol and Lichtenstein.
Finding his subject matter in images from travel brochures, magazines, and family portraits Malcolm Morley then transfers them to canvas using a grid system. His interests have remained remarkably consistent throughout his career, as he states himself, "I study contours, mass, tone, color, edges. And that has stayed much the same." However, Morley is continually challenging his art practice and experimenting with new techniques. A dedicated producer of editions and multiples, Morley's thrilling plane-inspired silkscreens echo a youthful passion for making airplane model kits.
Malcolm Morley is featured in many permanent collections worldwide and has had prestigious retrospectives at the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1983, and the Hayward Gallery, 2001 both in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1993, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami in 2006. As well as winning the prestigious Turner Prize in 1984 Morley has also been honored with the Francis J. Greenburger Award in 2015. He was also a prominent part of documenta in Kassel Germany in 1972 and 1977.