Morris Blackburn was born in Philadelphia and spent his career in the city. After schooling at the Philadelphia Trade School and work in the Hog Island shipbuilding yard, he began his art training in 1922 at the Graphic Sketch Club. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1925 to 1929, winning two Cresson Traveling Scholarships. In the mid-1930s he participated in the Public Works Art Project, executing murals for the Mastbaum Vocational School and Haverford High School. He began his long teaching career in 1932 at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art. Around 1936-37 Blackburn attended the private classes of Arthur B. Charles, who became his close friend and mentor.
In the mid-1940s he undertook a variety of teaching positions and from 1948 to 1952 he taught graphics at Tyler School of Art. In 1945 he initiated the adult training program at the Philadelphia Museum where he continued to hold classes until 1972. In 1952 Blackburn joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Beginning as the Academy’s first instructor in graphics, he was involved with the re-evaluation and changes in the curriculum leading to the introduction of a general program for first-year students. He frequently gave informal seminars in his home, and held private classes in landscape painting in southern New Jersey.
He worked in a wide variety of media, using Philadelphia or New Jersey scenes as his subjects. His style emphasized strong compositional elements, and often recalled his early concern with abstraction. He was the subject of several films. “Portrait of a Painter” was completed in 1959 by Emidio Angelo. “South Jersey Sketchbook” was made for Channel 52 in Philadelphia, and “Time-Binding,” a film about his teaching and painting methods, was in progress during the last years of his life.
7.5 x 9.5 inches (image)
Edition of 40
Signed, titled and numbered in pencil