Elizabeth Murray American, 1940-2007


Elizabeth Murray belonged to a generation of artists who emerged in the 1970s and whose exposure to Cubist-derived Minimalism and Surrealist-influenced Pop inspired experimentation with new modes of expression that would bridge the gap between these two historical models. In this context, Murray produced a singularly innovative body of work. Warping, twisting, and knotting her constructed canvases, she has given the elastic shapes of classic surrealism a space in their own image.

Murray spent much of her childhood drawing. In 1958 she enter the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to become a commercial artist, but work by Paul Cézanne inspired her to pursue painting instead. After earning a BFA from the Institute in 1962 and an MFA from Mills College, Oakland in 1964, she moved to New York, where she developed her mature style.

Murray first exhibited at the Paula Cooper Gallery in 1974. Murray’s work has been the subject of nearly sixty solo exhibitions in galleries around the world since her New York City debut in the 1972 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Paintingat the Whitney Museum of American Art and has participated in six Whitney Biennial exhibitions since 1973. A comprehensive exhibition including over seventy-five paintings and works on paper, from the earliest phase of Murray’s career in the 1960s through her most recent work was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 2005 (only the fourth by a woman in the history of the Department of Painting and Sculpture a distinction previously given only to Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler).

Murray received numerous awards for her work, including the Skowhegan Medal in Painting in 1986 and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 1999. In addition to her teaching position at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY), Murray held visiting faculty appointments at a number of American colleges and universities throughout her stellar career.

Elizabeth Murray’s work can be found in over forty public collections in the United States.