This is the first UK exhibition of celebrated American painter Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007). The exhibition highlights a dramatic decade that saw Murray’s work dominate the art scene of 1980s New York. Her innovative paintings paved the way for a revival of the medium that included Julian Schnabel, David Salle and Anselm Kiefer. This landmark exhibition will focus on her vibrant, monumental, multi-panel and three-dimensional paintings and innovative works on paper from the 1980s and early 1990s.
Absorbing influences from Arp to late Kandinsky, as well as her contemporaries — including Warhol and the Chicago Minimalists—Murray was part of a group of like-minded artists who rejected the hard-edged painting style of the previous generation in late 1960s New York. On view are signature paintings including Wake Up, from 1981, featuring a shattering coffee cup across three canvases that plays between illusion and the literal. This use of domestic imagery—the focus in so many of her most celebrated works—led critics to brand her a “woman painter.” In response Murray said: “Cézanne painted cups and saucers and apples, and no one assumed he spent a lot of time in the kitchen.”
The exhibition also includes Sandpaper Fate, from 1993, a wild, towering, and expressive work that combines figuration and abstraction. Neither works have been exhibited in Europe.
Timely and revealing this exhibition is a unique opportunity to see and reassess the exhilarating three-dimensional paintings from this influential but previously undervalued, artist.
Elizabeth Murray (b. 1940, Chicago; d. 2007, Washington County, New York) earned a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago (1962) and an MFA from Mills College in Oakland (1964). Her work is held in over sixty public collections in the United States and has been the subject of over eighty solo exhibitions worldwide. Her retrospective, Elizabeth Murray: Paintings and Drawings, jointly organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, the Albert and Vera List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opened in 1987, and travelled to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Des Moines Art Center; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, closing at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1988. In 2005, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, organized a retrospective that travelled to Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain. Her work was featured at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.
Murray was the recipient of numerous academic and institutional honours, including an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (1984), to which she was elected as a member in 1992. She was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Painting, New York (1986), and was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1999).