Elizabeth Murray: Back in Town, the first major posthumous exhibition of works by the painter Elizabeth Murray, opens on June 12 at the UB Anderson Gallery.
Elizabeth Murray: Back in Town, the first major posthumous exhibition of works by the pioneering painter Elizabeth Murray, opens on June 12 at the UB Anderson Gallery.
The survey presents a fresh look at key issues and motivations in Murray’s five-decade career. It chronologically traces the artist’s career through paintings, drawings, and prints that show how the early, never-before-seen works she created in the San Francisco Bay Area – and later in Buffalo – matched the mature style of painting which earned her criticism recognition.
The effect of the two years Murray spent in Buffalo working and teaching at Rosary Hill College (now Daemen College) was previously a footnote in her legendary career – treated as a two-year stopover during her move from San Francisco to New York City. In buffalo, as Murray admitted to himself, her work “radically” changed and set her on a path To become the bold painter known for her wildly shaped canvases – a mixture of abstraction and caricature figuration.
The exhibition marks 55 years since Murray’s solo show at Tomac Gallery, an artist-run gallery in Buffalo that was in operation from 1965-69.
“It has long been a dream of mine to bring an exhibition of Elizabeth Murray’s work to Buffalo. It is really exciting to host such a large retrospective with accompanying publication and new grants for your career, ”says Robert Scalise, director of the UB Art Galleries and curator of the exhibition. “As part of a lively research university in a city with a thriving artistic community, this exhibition is a perfect combination of art historical research and inspiration.”
The UB Art Galleries presentation is the largest exhibition of Murray’s work since its 2005 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and includes 71 works – 21 paintings, 29 drawings and 21 prints. The highlights include the “Portrait of Einstein & Charles Proteus Steinmetz” (1963), which has never been exhibited before. Painted while Murray lived in San Francisco, the work is one of the artist’s earliest sculpted works, featuring portraits of Albert Einstein and mathematician Charles Proteus Steinmetz nestled on canvas with collage and paint.
“NH Lockwood” (1964-67), also on view for the first time, is one of the very few examples of Murray’s use of stuffed sculpture – a medium that she explored almost exclusively during her time in Buffalo. In “NH Lockwood,” a character stares into a mirror while an arm, made up of the sleeve of a shirt, reaches out to apply lipstick.
Signature examples from all of Murray’s creative periods are represented in this overview, including works from her “minimal” period in the 1970s to her “maximal” work in the 1980s. The exhibition also includes the artist’s last painting, “Everybody Knows” (2007). Significant loans from private and institutional collections complete the survey, including “Riverbank” (1997), on loan from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
It also highlights a sizeable selection of drawings and prints, including those Murray produced during nearly two decades of working with Universal Limited Art Editions. an art print publisher.
Elizabeth Murray: Back in Town, on view through October 3, was organized in partnership with the Murray-Holman Family Trust, New York. An illustrated catalog includes a new essay by Jason Andrew, director of the Elizabeth Murray estate, and a conversation about Murray and approaches to painting by Liz Park, curator of UB Art Galleries, and artists Math Bass, Natessa Amin and Rachel Eulena Williams.
The UB Anderson Gallery is located at 1 Martha Jackson Place near the South Campus and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are recommended, but not required.
Visit the UB Art Galleries website for more information.