Joseph McGurl has been referred to as one of the acknowledged leaders in the current American landscape school. This has been confirmed by his inclusion in several important museum shows and his successful relationship with some of the country's leading galleries. Additionally, he has been the subject of numerous book and magazine articles, and he conducts workshops and presents lectures throughout the country.
Joseph was born in Massachusetts in 1958. He grew up working with his father, James McGurl, who was a muralist and his most influential teacher. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Art with a dual major in painting and education. He also studied in England and Italy. In search of a more solid training in drawing, he sought out Robert Cormier, a devotee of the French Academy methods, and he studied figure drawing under him. After college, he worked for a period of time as a yacht captain, sailing throughout the east coast from Maine to the Caribbean.
Joseph's paintings are often seen in relationship to the great 19th century luminist painters but with a thoroughly modern approach to style and subject. He is one of the few contemporary realists who do not, for philosophical reasons, include the use of photography in his art. For Joseph, the process, rather than the product, is the most important part of a painting. For this reason, his large studio paintings are developed from sketches painted on location. Rather than relying on photography, this method gives him the freedom to create paintings based on his imagination, memory, and his observation. Although the objects depicted in the paintings are elements of the landscape and have a deep personal meaning to him, an equally important subject is an exploration of light, form, space, and color interpreted through paint.
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