Elizabeth Murray

Elizabeth Murray's giant glasses, coffee cups, shoes, and other domestic objects of an Alice-in-Wonderland scale are the focus of her witty, vibrant and eccentrically shaped paintings. Born in Chicago, Murray received her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A. from Mills College, Oakland, California. In 1967, she settled in New York City where, nine years later, she had her first solo exhibition in 1976 at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Her first major recognition came during her 1987-88 retrospective "Elizabeth Murray: Paintings and Drawings" that traveled to six venues. Since then, Murray has received numerous distinguished awards. "Breaking" is the image of a beer glass being shattered on two distinct canvases. An homage to Synthetic Cubism, with its broad, flat areas of color and multiplicity of views, "Breaking" is executed in thickly layered paint. A watershed moment in the artist's oeuvre, "Breaking" is the first painting in which Murray divided her canvas into two. "It occurred to me that the center was absent," she explained, "that the negative could be the positive. I understood right away that the heart is in the center. The beer glass is breaking in half in an illusionistic as well as in a physical way, and that's the first time I realized that I could do both at once." The painting's visual tension reflects the late twentieth-century sense of anxiety so pervasive in American life. The beer glass serves as a traditional still-life object and a banal quotidian object - an amalgam of both "high" and "low" art. "Breaking" is Murray's humorous Postmodern counterpoint to paintings by the Abstract Expressionist and Pop Art masters.
Date of Birth
Encaustic on two canvases
106 x 148 in. (269.24 x 375.92 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Henry C. Gibson Fund
On View
On Loan

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