Unprecedented Exhibition of Works by Celebrated Contemporary Artist Elizabeth Murray
“Her Story”: Prints by Elizabeth Murray, 1986–2006
January 22–March 30, 2014
Stanford, Calif. — Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center presents a unique exhibition of works by Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007), considered one of the nation’s most important postmodernist abstract artists. “Her Story”: Prints by Elizabeth Murray, 1986–2006 includes all 42 of the groundbreaking editions made at New York’s Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) from 1986, when she first created prints there, through the last two decades of her prolific career. Primarily drawn from a private collection, this comprehensive selection of prints has never before been shown as a group. The exhibition runs January 22 through March 30.
Murray belonged to a generation of artists who emerged in the 1970s exposed to Minimalism and Pop art of the time—as well as earlier models such as Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism—and who experimented with new modes of expression. In this inventive artistic environment, Murray gained distinction by using boldly inventive forms and vivid objects and occurrences from everyday life. As Critic Roberta Smith wrote in the artist’s New York Times obituary, Murray “reshaped Modernist abstraction into a high-spirited, cartoon-based, language of form whose subjects included domestic life, relationships and the nature of painting itself.”
Murray’s approach to printmaking, like her painting, was iconoclastic, breaking with the idea that a painting or print is a two-dimensional object representing a single point of view. Murray’s prints reflect her penchant for eccentrically shaped works and multi-part compositions, with some constructed of multiple sheets of paper that she printed, tore and reassembled into three-dimensional art. Her compositions are dynamic, daring, witty and emotional, drawing inspiration from diverse sources ranging from masters Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso to comics, children’s books and Walt Disney cartoons.
Although Murray won a MacArthur “genius grant” and received a retrospective spanning her 40-year career at the Museum of Modern Art in New York—honors bestowed on only a handful of women artists—West Coast audiences remain largely unfamiliar with her work.
“We are proud to bring the important work of Elizabeth Murray to the Bay Area,” said Connie Wolf, the Cantor’s John & Jill Freidenrich Director. “Murray spent formative years in this area, earning her MFA at Mills College in Oakland, and now our visitors will have the opportunity to see this extraordinary collection of work. First you experience the art’s illusion of motion, eccentric dimensionality and semi-abstract forms. When you get closer, you see ominous details—broken dishes, jagged edges, disheveled rooms—there’s always an edge to her work, a compelling complexity.”
The exhibition also includes a selection of three large-scale paintings by Murray that illuminate the relationship between her painting and printmaking.
Anne Waldman’s “Her Story” Collaboration with Murray
Prints on view include Murray’s collaborative project with renowned experimental poet Anne Waldman, which combined images by Murray and text by Waldman. The title of the series that resulted, “Her Story,” lends itself to the exhibition at the Cantor. Waldman, the author of more than 40 books, has been connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School. In 1974, with Allen Ginsberg, she founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where she continues to teach. She performs internationally and collaborates extensively with visual artists, musicians and dancers. Learn more about Waldman.
Reading by Anne Waldman, February 20 at 7 pm
Waldman makes a special appearance at Stanford on Thursday, February 20, at 7 pm, free to the public with open seating. She will read several of her poems (one unpublished), discuss their context, and also talk about her collaboration with Murray to create "Her Story." Location to be announced.
Born in Chicago in 1940, Elizabeth Murray spent much of her childhood drawing. In 1958 she entered the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to become a commercial artist, but work by Paul Cézanne inspired her to pursue painting instead. After earning a BFA from the Institute in 1962 and an MFA from Mills College, Oakland in 1964, she moved to New York, where she developed her mature style. She received numerous awards for her work, including the Skowhegan Medal in Painting in 1986 and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 1999. She was also honored by MoMA in 2005 with a retrospective exhibition, a distinction previously given only to three women: Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler. Her works are in many major public collections, including those of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Soon after Murray’s death in 2007, the Bowery Poetry Club held a Praise Day in her honor; later in the year a private memorial was held for her at MoMA.
Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE)
Tatyana Grosman founded Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), a workshop for making fine art prints and books on Long Island, in 1957. Passionate about lithography, she encouraged young artists from New York, including Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, to try their hand at this unfamiliar and reputedly old-fashioned medium. These collaborative experiences with master printers at ULAE led many artists to become prolific printmakers and to make the medium integral to their overall practice. By the mid-1960s, artist-printer collaborations at ULAE and at other such print workshops in the United States gave rise to an explosion of contemporary printed art. By the 1980s, a new generation of artists had begun to work at ULAE, already aware of the aesthetic possibilities offered by printmaking and eager to experiment with its myriad techniques. Learn more about ULAE
Hilarie Faberman, the Cantor’s Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin curator of modern and contemporary art, organized this exhibition from private collections in California and ULAE. Prints are on loan from the Fearer/Randel Collection and ULAE; paintings are on loan from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection and the Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson.
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Admission to the Cantor Arts Center is free. Docents offer free tours of the exhibition Thursdays at 12:15 pm plus Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm throughout the run of the exhibition. The Cantor is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. and is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free on weekends and after 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information about the Cantor Arts Center, call 650-723-4177.
Notes to Editors
• To arrange for interviews and for further information, including an exhibition catalogue, contact Anna Koster, Head of Communications, Cantor Arts Center, 650-725-4657, firstname.lastname@example.org
• For high-resolution publicity images, contact PR Assistant Manager Margaret Whitehorn, Cantor Arts Center, 650-724-3600, email@example.com
About the Cantor Arts Center
The Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University’s only museum, is a vital and dynamic institution with a venerable history. Founded in 1891 with the university, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The museum’s encyclopedic collection spans 5,000 years, includes 32,000 artworks and beckons visitors to travel around the world and through time: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary. With 24 galleries presenting selections from the collection and more than 20 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor serves Stanford’s academic community, draws art lovers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and attracts campus visitors from around the world. Free admission, free tours, lectures, family activities, plus changing exhibitions make the Cantor one of the most well-attended university art museums in the country and a great resource for teaching and research on campus.
Renowned poet Anne Waldman reads from her work and talks about her collaboration with Murray in a free event on Thursday, February 20, 2014
Elizabeth Murray (U.S.A., 1940–2007), Down Dog, 1988. Lithograph, 41 x 50-3/4 in. Published by Universal Limited Art Editions.
© 1988 The Murray-Holman Family Trust/ Universal Limited Art Editions.
Universal Limited Art Editions.
Elizabeth Murray (U.S.A., 1940–2007), Wiggle Manhattan, 1992. Lithograph, 58-3/4 x 29 in. Published by Universal Limited Art Editions. © 1988 The Murray-Holman Family Trust/ Universal Limited Art Editions.