Morris Blackburn, Abstraction—Free Moving Forms, 1951, engraving, first state of two. Purchased with funds from the Art Objects Endowment, 2008.66.1.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Morris Blackburn attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with, among others, Arthur B. Carles, one of the country’s leading proponents of modernism. The city remained his home throughout his career as an artist and as a teacher, a profession for which he was equally known and admired. Starting in the 1930s, Blackburn offered courses in painting and printmaking first at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts), then the Tyler School of Art, at Temple University, and finally at his alma mater, PAFA, where he taught from 1952 until his death in 1979.
Blackburn’s affiliation with Carles, with whom he studied privately for a number of years following his graduation from PAFA, led to a healthy inclination toward abstraction. This propensity was further enhanced through his participation in the monthly workshops run by experimental printmaker Stanley William Hayter, starting in 1945, at the Print Club (today known as the Print Center). The majority of the drawings, prints, and paintings in the exhibition in particular demonstrate the discipline the Hayter experience brought to Blackburn’s creative process.