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Pemberton, Murdock

    Full Name: Pemberton, Murdock

    Other Names:

    • Murdock Pemberton

    Gender: male

    Date Born: unknown

    Date Died: unknown

    Place Born: Emporia, Lyon, KS, USA

    Place Died: Valatie, Columbia, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Career(s): art critics

    Institution(s): The New Yorker


    First art critic for the New Yorker magazine.  Pemberton joined The Emporia Gazette (Emporia, KS) as a reporter, moving to the The Kansas City Star and eventually The Philadelphia North American before coming to New York where his brother lived.  He joined The New Yorker in June 1925, at the magazine’s founding, as their first art critic. He remained at the magazine for seven years.  Mr. Pemberton soon developed opinionated views on the New York art scene. In 1928 he charged in another magazine, Creative Art, that the Metropolitan Museum of Art was the ”discourager of art in America.” In 1932 he left The New Yorker, but returned to the magazine again in the 1950’s. According to Pemberton, he inadvertently began the literary lunch tradition at the Algonquin Hotel. Permberton had taken the press agent John Peter Toohey to lunch with the drama critic Alexander Woollcott in the 1920s. That meeting, he asserted, evolved into the famous Round Table at the hotel, attended by George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert Benchley and Woollcott. 

    His brother, Brock Pemberton, was a play producer who produced ”Harvey” on Broadway.


    [obituary:]  New York Times. “Pemberton Murdock, was First Critic for the New Yorker.” August 21, 1982, Section 1, Page 28; Pemberton, Sally.  Portrait of Murdock Pemberton: the New Yorker’s First Art Critic. Enfield, NH: Picture Book Press, 2011.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Pemberton, Murdock." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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