Catherine Murphy Wins Robert De Niro Sr. Prize


The winner of the third annual Robert De Niro Sr. Prize is Catherine Murphy, an artist based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Bestowed by the Estate of Robert De Niro Sr. and administered by the Tribeca Film Institute, the $25,000 award is presented to one outstanding midcareer American painter each year.

The jury included A.i.A. editor-in-chief Lindsay Pollock; Susan Davidson, senior curator of collections and exhibitions at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; art critic, painter and longtime A.i.A. contributing editor Peter Plagens; and Robert Storr, dean of Yale University’s School of Art.

The judges’ statement praised Murphy, saying “Catherine is devoted to painting. She takes a long, hard look and sees things that others would have missed. Her work is seemingly absolutely consistent and yet it is surprising in each individual iteration. It is very much about the process of painting.”

A graduate of Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, Murphy has had numerous museum exhibitions over the course of her career, most recently at the Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, New York. Her work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Thomas Olbricht Collection, Berlin. Among Murphy’s other honors are two National Endowment for the Arts Grants (1979 and 1989), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1982) and her membership, since 2002, of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Formerly a senior critic at the Yale University Graduate School of Art for 22 years, she currently serves as the visual arts chair at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

The father of the Academy Award-winning actor with whom he shares a name, Robert De Niro Sr. enjoyed a successful painting career throughout the 20th century. Known for his Abstract Expressionist paintings, the artist showed his work in the mid-1940s at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery in New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York, include De Niro Sr.’s work in their permanent collections.

Past winners of the award, which is funded by the younger De Niro, are Stanley Whitney (2012) and Joyce Pensato (2013).