Exhibition News: EM at Camden Arts Centre, UK


Jul 5-Sept 15, 2019

Opening Preview: Thurs, Jul 4, 6:30-8:30pm

Sun, Jul 7, 1-2pm: Walkthrough with Jason Andrew, Director of the Estate of Elizabeth Murray

Arkwright Road
London NW3 6DG

Camden, UK - This summer, the Camden Arts Centre presents the first institutional exhibition in the UK of celebrated American painter Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007).  Though her art and life had significant influence on several generations of artists both in the United States and beyond, Murray’s work has rarely been seen in Europe and her impact here is still too little-known.
This landmark exhibition surveys Murray's radical approach to paintings, drawing, and printmaking focusing on Murray’s vibrant, monumental, multi-panel and frequently three-dimensional works from the 1980s and early 1990s. A brochure accompanies the exhibition with text by Anna Katz, Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
This riveting selection of 8 paintings, 15 drawings, and 6 prints highlights a dramatic decade that saw Murray’s work dominate the art scene of 1980s New York. Her paintings paved the way for a revival of the medium that included Julian Schnabel, David Salle and Anselm Kiefer. Absorbing influences from Arp to Munch to Kandinsky, as well as her contemporaries—including Warhol and the irreverent cartoon realism of Chicago Imagists—Murray was part of a group of artists who rejected the hard-edged painting style of the previous generation in late 1960s New York. With bold use of colours, evocative biomorphic shapes, lightning-strike cut-outs and abstracted domestic subjects, Murray produced a singularly innovative and influential body of work.
The survey includes signature paintings like Wake Up (1981), featuring a fragmenting coffee cup across three canvases that play between illusion and the literal, and War and Peace (1987), featuring a shattering table with legs that stretch and break beyond the gallery wall. This use of domestic imagery—the focus in so many of her most celebrated works—led critics to once brand her a “woman painter.” In response Murray said: “Cézanne painted cups and saucers and apples, and no one assumed he spent a lot of time in the kitchen.” This statement among others like it made Murray a vocal advocate among her female peers.
Highlights include the painting Sandpaper Fate (1993), a wild, towering, and expressive work that combines figuration and abstraction, and elected prints from her collaboration with Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), that often combined multiple states, and offer added insight to her process of pushing traditional mediums far beyond their norms.
Timely and revealing, this exhibition is a unique opportunity to see and reassess the exhilarating three-dimensional paintings of Elizabeth Murray. For most British audiences this will be the first opportunity to experience her work.

Murray’s paintings pulverize, distill, and enmesh her sources, fitting together a personal imagery with a kind of psychological subject matter which reaches back to Munch, Miro, […] they offer some new thoughts on Picassoid distortion from a woman’s point of view.’

-Roberta Smith, Village Voice, 1984

Elizabeth Murray, “The Garage,” 1985, Oil on canvas (three parts), 60 x 86 1/2 x 14 in. (152.4 x 219.7 x 35.6 cm) Collection of Jennifer Bartlett and The Jennifer Bartlett 2013 Trust, New York, NY

Elizabeth Murray, “The Garage,” 1985, Oil on canvas (three parts), 60 x 86 1/2 x 14 in. (152.4 x 219.7 x 35.6 cm) Collection of Jennifer Bartlett and The Jennifer Bartlett 2013 Trust, New York, NY

About Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray (b. 1940, Chicago; d. 2007, Washington County, New York) earned a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago (1962) and an MFA from Mills College in Oakland (1964). Her work is held in over sixty public collections in the United States and has been the subject of over eighty solo exhibitions worldwide. Her retrospective, Elizabeth Murray: Paintings and Drawings, jointly organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, the Albert and Vera List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, opened in 1987, and traveled to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Des Moines Art Center; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, closing at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1988. In 2005, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, organized a retrospective that traveled to Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain. Her work was featured at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.

Murray was the recipient of numerous academic and institutional honours, including an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (1984), to which she was elected as a member in 1992. She was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Painting, New York (1986), and was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1999). 

About Camden Arts Centre
Camden Arts Centre (Registered Charity Number 1065829) is a place for world-class contemporary art exhibitions and education. Founded by artists in 1965, it continues to be a space for the most vital and diverse mix of practices and ideas, with an international reputation for supporting artists at key points in their careers, championing excellence and fostering an open and inclusive environment of ambition, innovation and risk.

Through a regular programme of exhibitions, artist residencies, off-site projects, performances, talks and educational projects, we ensure that Camden Arts Centre remains one of the UK’s most dynamic and respected spaces to see, make and talk about art and ideas.