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SHAPES OF THINGS TO COME: THE ART OF ELIZABETH MURRAY

PAINTING IN NEW YORK during the second half of the 1970s was a mess. The self-analytical, radically empty work of artists like Jo Baer, Robert Ryman, Brice Marden, and Robert Mangold, which had been the main chance in the not-yet-fully-played-out arc of modernist painting, was proving generative primarily for those artists and a tight phalanx of sympathetic curators and critics, while its implications of closure made its absorption by a generation of enraptured younger artists quite problematic. The art schools and galleries were loaded with mannered attempts to thread some needle of original nuance among the dead ends implied by the older artists’ positions, while the broader painterly discourse became increasingly cacophonous. Photorealism and the remnants of “lyrical abstraction” waned as Pattern and Decoration, New Image, and “bad” painting waxed in a Darwinian struggle for philosophical

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