Elizabeth Murray (BFA 1962, HON 1992) "reshaped Modernist abstraction."
Elizabeth Murray (BFA 1962, HON 1992), an artist associated with the Neo-Expressionist movement in art, was born in Chicago in 1940 and died in Granville, New York in 2007. She received her BFA at SAIC in 1962 and her MFA from Mills College in 1964. According to Roberta Smith, a New York Times art critic, when Murray started at SAIC in 1958, her goal was to become a commercial artist, but that quickly changed when she encountered a Cézanne still life that she would see regularly on her way to class. Murray later said that the painting was “the first in which I lost myself looking,” and added, “I just realized I could be a painter if I wanted to try.”
Smith described Murray as “a New York painter who reshaped Modernist abstraction into a high-spirited, cartoon-based, language of form whose subjects included domestic life, relationships, and the nature of painting itself.” Murray pushed the boundaries of traditional painting with her distinctively shaped canvases that jutted out from the wall to create sculptural qualities, visible early in her career in Painter’s Progress (1981) and later in Bop (2002–03).
The Museum of Modern Art honored her 40-year career with a retrospective in 2006. Murray had solo exhibitions in more than 30 galleries worldwide and her work can be found in more than 40 public collections. In 1992 she received an honorary doctorate from SAIC and in 1999 she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.