elizabeth murray: spunky old broad


In whichever state, there is no question that Ms. Murray is – in the best sense of the term – a vulgarian. Her art fuses ribald humor and linguistic experiment in a way that itself constitutes a high-low collision. But then her ability to play abstraction and figuration simultaneously, to deal with life in all its impurities and yet speculate within the higher realms of “pure” shape and color, recalls many classic forebears within the modernist canon, Picasso or Miró for instance, making her a natural for MoMA, a living exemplar of modernism. That these two artistic forebears hail from the same country might not be a coincidence: Ms. Murray was born in Chicago, and although she has made her career in New York, a goofey, Rabelasian life inclusiveness links Chicago art, across several generations, to Spain’s mix of the earthy and the metaphysical.

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