Shaped canvas 6

Elizabeth Murray was very well known for her multi-panel works. I think the most interesting aspect of them were the spaces between the parts.

Elizabeth Murray, Yikes 1982

The shapes are basically the shapes of the objects she painted, which are often in the classic cubist tradition of ordinary small things such as coffee cups. One thing I like about her work is the color, which seems to have a lot of black mixed in, but has, to my eyes, a certain grimy New York feel. She’s not an abstractionist, more of a late cubist, though that’s interesting enough.

Elizabeth Murray, Morning is breaking 2006

I saw her work in Venice a few years ago, and really didn’t like it. I was put off by the cartoon imagery, which seemed very unoriginal to me, something I’ve seen a lot of. They were not really shaped canvases, but visual narratives with the parts strung out over the wall. However much I like the strategy of leaving spaces between the parts, in these late works they are not as well organized as they could be. Earlier works are better, like this one, which has overlapping panels, and some edges stressed others not—a good mix of illusionism and factuality.

Elizabeth Murray, Can you hear me? 1984

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