Elizabeth Murray


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(1940– )

American painter and printmaker, born in Chicago. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1958–62, and Mills College, Oakland, California, where she took an MFA degree in 1964. After working as a teacher in Buffalo (where she also set up a print workshop), she settled in New York in 1967. In the early 1970s her work became abstract, and from 1976 she began to use shaped canvases, a format that she has made her own. She has not only used unusual irregular shapes, but also taken the idea further into pictures made up of multiple canvases, sometimes in overlapping, interlocking layers and sometimes arranged in patterns like jigsaws in which the pieces do not quite fit: Painter's Progress (1981, MoMA, New York) is made up of nineteen parts. She says of such works ‘I want the panels to look as if they had been thrown against the wall, and that's how they stuck there’, but in spite of the energy and seeming spontaneity of her work, she plans it very carefully, making full-scale preparatory drawings. Typically her paintings are large and exuberant, often brilliantly coloured. At first glance they usually look purely abstract, but they often contain figurative elements. Murray has also produced coloured lithographs.

Subjects: Art.

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