new-york

Elizabeth Murray, Wake Up, 1981, oil on canvas, 111 1/8 x 105 5/8". © The Murray-Holman Family Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Elizabeth Murray

PACE

Elizabeth Murray, Wake Up, 1981, oil on canvas, 111 1/8 x 105 5/8". © The Murray-Holman Family Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

An unexpected, utterly unstable synthesis of Chicago’s unruly, almost lowbrow Imagism with the more calculated approach—and blockbuster scale—of New York abstraction: That’s what Elizabeth Murray achieved at her best. The twenty-five works in “Elizabeth Murray: Painting in the ’80s” made it absolutely clear why she became one of the leading American painters of that decade, even though her work—no more neo-expressionist than neo-geo—didn’t really fit in with anything else going on. The frenetic energy of these paintings is simply undeniable, and it’s the energy of a formidable but unruly intelligence in action. At the time, one had the impression that she was massively influential, yet she was such an oddball that no one really seemed to know how to be influenced by her.

On one of my visits to the show I happened to run into the poet Bob Holman, Murray’s widower.

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