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Popped from Life (for E. M.)

Elizabeth Murray / CANADA

Curated by Carroll Dunham and Dan Nadel
December 10, 2016 – January 29, 2017

Elizabeth Murray, Bed, 1994. India ink, gouache, colored pencil and printed paper on spiral edge paper. 13 1/4 × 10 1/2 inches. Photo: Ellen Page Wilson. Courtesy Pace Gallery.


Leaping from a bent table into three-dimensional form,
She swiftly excavates a formidable void.
Her key was fearlessness.

A doorknob, hidden on the side above hip-height;
A surface anatomy that wraps once, twice,
Three times. A mysterious tunnel lies below
Her remarkable Jamesian depictions.

When Things Fall Apart, automatism teases the
Synthetic-structure-dance, ecstatic, with ease.
Whozat! For Which Way Out please.
Acrobatic things are tossed up, turned upside-down,
Twisted sideways.
Compressed tissues build and erupt in the congested interior
Like Times Square’s traffic at rush hours.

Her irrefutable brio tills
The bricolage of tabletop and the soil of the windy city.

From a distance I hear her hypnotic sound of
Cross-hatching on paper and the mixing of succulent earth pigments
On a cotton duck canvas. Forms cutout, punctured, stretched,
Popped from life not pop.

Brick with Heart, Whozat again,
Juggling comic sublime,
Unpredictably masterful
Like a tightrope walker who prefers a surface of fizzy spumante
Even on the coldest and darkest days of winter.
She knew her chops. We all know it too.

I still remember between The Sun and the Moon
Muddy Waters and Mondrian doing the Boogaloo.
As for Ron Gorchov, Margrit Lewczuk, Carroll Dunham,
Who’re gleefully shuffling their feet,
With Suzanne McClelland, Yevgeniya Baras, James English Leary, Deb Kass,
And thousands of other admirers, the dance continues.
Everybody knows.


Elizabeth Murray, Dust Tracks, 1993. Oil on canvas on painted wood. 68 × 46 × 10 inches. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate. Courtesy Pace Gallery.



Phong Bui

Phong H. Bui is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2017

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