Daniel Sean Murphy
Recently I had the great fortune of meeting Daniel Sean Murphy, a brilliant artist but that’s not really an accurate description of his talent. Daniel, an SVA graduate who studied drawing, painting and in his 3rd year began using paper sculpting as his primary medium is a magician with paper and it’s 3D transformation. It takes more than just visual talent to calculate and engineer some of the incredibly intricate pieces he has produced but it’s the likeness to reality and being able to trick the eye that is so fascinating to me. Inspired by Charles LeDray, another sculptor represented by Sperone Westwater in New York, Murphy did an independent study with the artist and the results of his mentoring focused him on pushing the medium of paper to another level.
Murphy grew up in New Jersey, his father working in architecture and construction and his mother a teacher. Those genes certainly shone through as Daniel has a masterful understanding of complex 3D objects and translating them spatially and understanding how to manipulate shadow and light. What’s so interesting is using his painting and drawing skills and then building up layers of paper he works almost like an architect would to create a topographical map of a landscape. But this technique has been used to create Cartier watches for the Wall Street Journal, Jack Spade and J. Crew store window displays and endless sets for editorial magazine shoots. Daniel and I recently sat down in my office to discuss what makes him tick.
His favorite things to construct so far “oversize Jack Spade clothing and bags and his large scale Hermes bags that is almost 3 times the original size”. Although in print form in magazines they don’t appear to be so large the actual sculptures size allows him to capture much more detail than would be possible if it were actual size. The Cartier watches that he produced for the Wall Street Journal have been as large as 36″ tall and he delicately constructed 365 butterflies for the monarch piece at life size. In addition to editorial set design, styling and visual merchandising work he has created a seductive series of black and white pieces and film stills. The shadows and light quality transform paper to such dramatic effect that it has new dimension and depth.
Murphy’s most recent mind-bogglingly precise work is in the current September issue of Elle magazine. He was commissioned to do the sets for a black and white story highlighting the fall seasons best black and white shoes and accessories and the shadows and architectural elements elevate the pieces in an elegant and almost theatrical way. When we discussed future projects I asked him if set design for theater was something he aspired to and he replied “it’s a natural progression of taking the medium to a larger scale”. And Daniel Sean Murphy’s stunning paper masterpieces are on the way to much grander stages!