The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Madeline Murphy Rabb

Collector, dealer and lover of art Madeline Murphy Rabb was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 27, 1945. The second of five children, Rabb is the daughter of a television personality and a judge. After completing high school, Rabb attended the University of Maryland in 1961. Leaving there in 1963, she went to the Maryland Institute College of Art, earning a B.F.A. in 1966. After moving to Chicago, she attended the Illinois Institute of Technology, earning an M.S. in 1975.

Upon completing her bachelor's degree, Rabb moved to Chicago and took a position with Tuesday Publications as assistant director of art and production. After taking several years off to devote herself to her family and various civic activities, Rabb became the vice president and business manager of Myra Everett Designs in 1977. From there, she went on to Corporate Concierge as an account executive in 1978, and in 1979 she opened Madeline Murphy Rabb Studio, where she created and sold original works. In 1983, Rabb was hired by the city of Chicago to serve as its executive director of fine arts, a position she held for seven years, during which time she heightened the organization's national visibility. After working as a freelance art consultant for a few years, Rabb once again opened her own business, Murphy Rabb, Inc. (MRI), in 1992, where she remains as president. MRI serves corporate, governmental and private clients, helping them conceptualize and build important art collections. Recently, MRI implemented the art program for the John Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

Rabb has also traveled the country lecturing, serving on panels and participating in workshops on a wide variety of issues. She is the curator of African American art collections at Ariel Capital Management and Brown Capital Management, and she has served on the Illinois Arts Council, the Folk Art Advisory Committee of the Field Museum of Natural American History, and the Woman's Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art. She has testified before congressional panels on the National Endowment for the Arts and has had her original works published in several books. Rabb has also made several television appearances, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her husband, Dr. Maurice Rabb, passed away in 2005. They have two children.

Accession Number

A2003.248

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/7/2003

Last Name

Rabb

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Murphy

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Maryland

Maryland Institute College of Art

Illinois Institute of Technology

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Madeline

Birth City, State, Country

Wilmington

HM ID

RAB02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Delaware

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

It Will Reveal Itself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/27/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Baby Vegetables

Short Description

Art consultant and curator Madeline Murphy Rabb (1945 - ) owns Murphy Rabb, Inc., an art consulting company. Rabb has also traveled the country lecturing, serving on panels and participating in workshops on a wide variety of issues.

Employment

City of Chicago

Delete

Murphy Rabb, Inc.

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
0,0:4800,67:5488,76:14538,182:17870,224:18850,237:21104,264:21692,271:22182,277:29532,356:29824,361:30262,368:30554,373:33547,438:33985,445:35007,462:35445,469:37197,510:40426,516:56970,686:58860,734:61650,784:62100,790:66862,813:73099,923:75475,968:77158,995:95264,1285:102102,1346:102540,1353:102832,1358:103854,1375:104292,1383:110205,1512:110716,1521:111519,1534:111884,1540:112176,1545:113271,1562:119586,1610:119958,1618:124939,1662:125542,1674:125877,1681:126614,1694:127083,1702:127887,1718:132214,1787:133574,1819:133982,1826:136090,1873:137246,1894:137858,1905:138266,1912:138946,1925:139218,1930:149870,2028:154570,2063:163590,2158:165130,2189:177320,2352:177620,2358:177920,2363:178595,2373:178970,2380:179270,2385:184398,2433:187322,2547:188002,2559:188274,2564:196058,2660:196695,2669:197150,2675:214190,2854:215450,2875:216080,2886:217130,2903:217550,2910:217970,2917:218390,2925:218810,2932:219440,2942:224711,2995:227844,3021:229120,3031$0,0:4686,26:6942,51:10669,84:11317,93:15601,172:16249,184:16735,193:20785,282:26068,328:27208,348:27892,362:31538,389:35822,432:39242,498:41446,527:41750,532:46236,560:46974,571:51640,631:56536,856:93250,1283:93782,1302:94466,1313:97582,1368:97962,1374:98418,1381:104765,1475:133762,1890:140482,1985:140866,1990:146265,2020:150645,2058:151240,2066:151580,2071:152260,2082:155405,2127:156425,2142:157190,2153:157870,2163:158635,2181:158975,2186:163395,2267:164160,2277:165010,2289:169590,2296:175329,2364:179755,2435:182230,2489:182680,2496:184780,2550:186355,2581:189900,2592:190800,2600:194878,2636:195868,2655:199234,2756:200026,2767:201874,2812:203986,2855:212484,2951:212968,2957:219952,2996:221410,3008
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Madeline Murphy Rabb's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Madeline Murphy Rabb lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks briefly about her parents' background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her mother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her mother, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes Cherry Hill, her childhood neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her family's isolation from the black bourgeoisie in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about being involved in voter registration drives and taking over her brother's paper route

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her social experience as a student at Eastern High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her family's frugalness

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her academic experience as a student at Eastern High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her childhood home life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her college application process and attending the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about transferring to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about canceling her wedding

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes meeting her husband, HistoryMaker Dr. Maurice F. Rabb

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes working at Tuesday magazine in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about Chicago's African American cultural arts movement in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes selling original artwork at the National Medical Association Annual Convention

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes experiencing a professional revelation

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about hosting a fundraiser for Harold Washington's first mayoral campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her appointment to Executive Director of Fine Arts for the City of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Madeline Murphy Rabb explains how she gained control of the Public Art Program as Executive Director of Fine Arts for the City of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes being sued by a community over a controversial artist commission

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about the customary exclusion of artists of color from grant funding, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about the customary exclusion of artists of color from grant funding, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about the elevation of the Department of Cultural Affairs to a cabinet level position

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about programming at the Chicago Cultural Center during her tenure as the Executive Director of Fine Arts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about Mayor Harold Washington's involvement in the City of Chicago's cultural affairs

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Madeline Murphy Rabb remembers a collaborative exhibition between the Department of Cultural Affairs and Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about controversy surrounding a Chicago artists' exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about controversy surrounding a Chicago artists' exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about controversy surrounding a Chicago artists' exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes the precursor to her private art dealing enterprise

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about controversy surrounding a Chicago artists' exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, pt. 4

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes curating an art collection for the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about black-owned art galleries in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Madeline Murphy Rabb explains how an artist gets her attention

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Madeline Murphy Rabb shares her perspective surrounding whether a black aesthetic in art exists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Madeline Murphy Rabb reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about 'Mirth & Girth,' a controversial posthumous painting of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Madeline Murphy Rabb describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Madeline Murphy Rabb narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about Chicago's African American cultural arts movement in the 1960s and 1970s
Madeline Murphy Rabb talks about hosting a fundraiser for Harold Washington's first mayoral campaign
Transcript
Now you said the political arts movement or what we call the black cultural arts movement is going on--$$Yeah.$$--basically. And when you were painting and--$$Yeah, and while I was political and aware of what was going on, that was not what my life was. I was a middle class woman, married to a physician, not struggling, and my subject matter had to do with things that were familiar to me. I did drawings and a lot of it was sort of social commentary on my middle class environment. I did these drawings about parties that I would go to and I was like an observer sort of observing people and I drew figures and I drew flowers, I did still lifes. And it wasn't the kind of thing that was radical or--but it was authentic and I didn't fit. I really didn't fit and so I was not taken seriously or given the respect.$$Now, are you saying in Chicago [Illinois] in those days if I can understand what's going on here, I know that now a lot of the art that was--the public art especially, the murals and stuff that AfriCOBRA [African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists] was engaged in, Mitchell Canton and [HM] Jeff Donaldson and Calvin Hill and lot of them you know, have been seen in retrospect as being great but during those days here they really making money as artists or gaining notoriety as artists?$$Well, the movement in retrospect yes, became very powerful but the Wall of Respect and all of the mural--that mural movement got a lot of recognition and a lot of respect in those days. But as far as my life was concerned, I think more than not being a part of it, I think my needing or wanting to be part of something I think--when you come out of art school, you have a community of artists around whom you work and so there's this sort of give and take. And when I left art school, I didn't have anyone to really talk to. I didn't fit with the feminists, the white feminist women because my issues were not the same issues as the white feminists, you know and so I didn't fit there. I didn't fit with Afrocentric artists and I had, I struggled but that's not to say I didn't continue to make art. And I got a studio in 1978 on South Michigan Avenue, and I had a studio for twenty years and made art and--but I did find how to get my art out there. So I exhibited--I did--I exhibited at the South Side Community Art Center. That was a very, very welcoming place, very supportive. I served on their board. I worked with the DuSable Museum [of African American History, Chicago, Illinois] and helped raise money for them so I was involved in arts circles but there was always this sort of--and maybe it was I who felt it, but I always sort of felt not taken seriously. Not you know, like oohhh, you know little artiste or little dilettante or you know, and I resented that and it always gnawed at me. And so I continued but there were always these moments during the course of my art making career where I wanted something else. I wanted to earn a pay check. I wanted to go somewhere you know and do something.$And so it was also during that period where Harold Washington was being touted as a possible candidate [for mayor of Chicago, Illinois]. There was a groundswell among the people. He became a people candidate you know, and there's all this energy for voter registration and all of that. And there was something about him that just struck a chord with me and I said I like this man and I became involved in his campaign early on. Artists for Washington, I lent art for the offices, I you know, I campaigned for him. I worked very hard for him and ultimately before the February primary, was so excited about him that I wanted to host a fundraiser. And by that time we lived in Kenwood [Chicago, Illinois]. We had an enormous house at the corner of 48th and Woodlawn. And Beverly Robinson who was married to Max Robinson at the time, and I, decided we were going to do couples. Max Robinson and [HM Dr.] Maurice Rabb and--well Max couldn't get involved in politics and so Maurice said well why don't you and Beverly do it, you know?$$Cause Max was a--$$An ABC Anchor.$$--news anchor for ABC, right.$$Um-hmm. So we did it at my house cause I had--$$He's an artist too.$$Yes.$$(Unclear).$$Yeah. So we did it at my house and you would have been astounded to know at--how--when I started talking to talking to people that I knew, by that time I was involved in the black middle class you know. I was very much a part of it and knew lots of people and called them to tell them what I was doing and said would you like to be part of the committee? And people said, "You know Mad, I think it's a great idea but I don't think I want to put my name on it." I'm saying, Huh? "Well you know if he loses, Jane Byrne is vindictive and you know that--I don't know. We'll help you but we're not going to put our name on the list." So hey, I said, more power to you. We did it. And so we had this fundraiser in my house and we had wall-to-wall people. The black bourgeoisie came out in full force. I--we raised a lot of money for him. And I liked--and I do believe that that was a significant event in that it galvanized--and people for the first time heard him talk. We had [HM] John Conyers [Jr.] there. My son did this wonderful poem about Jane Byrne. It was a wonderful evening and people heard him, touched him, talked to him, listened to him and began to support him. And it was interesting, there was a--and then there were people who were trying to tag on--some of the liberal Jewish community in Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois], wanted to join in on my fundraiser and I said, no. This is about what it is. And so, I did it because it was the right thing to do and it was something that I felt passionate about and of course looking back at my history of political involvement I hadn't been involved politically in Chicago up until that point because I had left Baltimore [Maryland], I had politics up to here. But suddenly you know this call, this gene kicked in and so, I did it. That was it.