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Miriam R. Haier (Visual Arts TRaC, Fall 05) Reviews Elizabeth Murray
at The Museum of Modern Art
Murray and the Madame at MoMA: Perfecting the Art
An orange-yellow rain of sunlight pours through the painted window in each image of Madame Cezanne in her rocking chair. The oil-on-canvas work looks like a grid, each view of Madame in its own rectangular box. The sun is always in the top left of the rectangles, but Madame Cezanne shifts in her rocking chair. Painted with simple, assertive black lines against a navy-indigo backdrop, she is there so that Elizabeth Murray can explore.
The strong lines, effective dashes, and subtle strokes are impressive in Murray's canvas paintings, but her attention to color is the most striking element of her work. Her "Shrinking Lines to the Right" and "Shrinking Lines Embracing in the Center" have unique pastel-shaded backgrounds³the first an Easter-egg green and the second a duller yellow. Murray's "steps" without depth and three versions of a "heartbeat" use color blends enhanced by calculated strokes. The "F painting" depicts an intimate, interlocking relationship between several "F's" lying on their sides, and betrays its artist's love affair with lines.
A unique sculptural approach to painting characterizes the retrospective, and it is most poignant when Murray's art begins to move further from the walls. "Don't Be Cruel" pushes off the solid white safety to pursue 3-D effects. "Tangled" swallows space with its twisted shapes, its royal blue, maroon, red, salmon, black and white vibrant reality.
Elizabeth Murray's works grow increasingly dramatic and riveting with massive pieces, figures ending in shapes and shapes ending in swirls. Her willingness to push the boundaries of her art is a refreshing call-back to the days of technique-obsessed artists like Cezanne. The lines between reality and perception are erased and replaced by a pop style brimming with energy and color. Gallery visitors are lucky to have the opportunity to come along on the polychrome voyage through time and development of artistic vision.