From the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, modern artists exploring abstraction have often found inspiration in the natural world. Through observation of the landscape, they have re-imagined the phenomena of nature in terms of line, gesture and hue. Looking at these works by Robert Murray, one sees him as both grounded in and inspired by the natural world. He uses these observations as a point of departure, not to create a postcard representation, but to investigate the possibilities of painting and drawing.

The paintings and prints in this exhibition were inspired by the landscape as seen from the air. During his many decades of flying his own plane, Murray often photographed the earth below. Using a selection of these photographs as reference, he created deft, spare drawings that simplified the landscape to reveal its essential gestures and shapes. He has used these drawings as the basis for a series of monochromatic paintings, woodblock prints and low-relief metal sculptures. These works continue the exploration of color and form that have been strong themes of his work in sculpture over the last six decades.

Author and curator Jonathan D. Lippincott will be presenting a lecture about Robert Murray at the Mulberry Branch NYPL on July 20th. Information can be found here. All are welcome.

About the artist,

Robert Murray grew up in western Canada and moved to New York City in 1960. Quickly established as an important young artist, he took part in the renaissance of modern sculpture and public art that unfolded over the following decades. Murray was innovative in his use of industrial fabrication methods to create his pieces and in his deep investigation of landscape as inspiration for abstract sculpture. His synthesis of the rich tradition of landscape painting in Canada and the exciting vision of New York abstract expressionist and color-field painting has resulted in an extraordinary and unique body of work. Murray was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 and received the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Grant Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018.


About the curator,

Jonathan D. Lippincott is the author of the newly published monograph Robert Murray: Sculpture. Associate director of the non-profit publisher Library of American Landscape History, he also works independently as art director and designer on illustrated books about architecture, landscape, and fine art. His previous book was Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s, and he has written about art for The Paris Review Daily, On-Verge, and Tether: A Journal of Art, Literature, and Culture. He has curated shows including the eightieth-anniversary exhibition for American Abstract Artists, here in New York, and Celestial and Terrestrial, at the New Arts Program in Kutztown.


Image credit:  Robert Murray, Landhope, 2008.

Visual & Critical Studies