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The Dallas Times Herald


Friday March 26, 1982

by Bill Marvel

Contrary to rumor and a good deal of wishful thinking, abstract art is not dead.  In fact, in the hands of an artist such as New York’s Judith Murray, the old gray mare of modern art shows remarkable signs of life. 


Ms.  Murray’s works are the subject of the current “Concentrations” exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.  To someone who has just walked into a gallery of these paintings, the first impression is that of sheer visual dazzle.  The artist gets more pyrotechnics out of a palette limited to white, tan, red and black than many artist do out of the entire visible spectrum.  For occasional variation, she switches from a matte to glossy black or red and, in more recent paintings, works the paint into a more textured surface.


White is the main carrier of energy in her works.  In scimitar-like forms, it arcs across black surfaces and snaps back, kindling other forms in torrid red.  Rhythms are answered by counterrhythms and, in fact, there is a constant exchange of energy and motion, form to form.  All this is invariably anchored along one edge of the canvas by a thin band of tan.


The eyeballs pop and sizzle.  Shimmering afterimages dance on the retina and on the gallery walls.  What is even more remarkable about these works is that, as curator Sue Graze points out in the short essay in the brochure accompanying the exhibit, they are not improvised in the white heat of a moment but over months of labor and contemplation.  The dynamics that seem so free and swinging on the canvas are actually adjusted and readjusted in the tranquility of the artist’s studio.  (There is a photo of that studio in the brochure; it is a clean well-ordered space.)


The Judith Murray exhibit continues through April 25.

Installation, Dallas Museum of Fine Art, 1982
Paintings left to right: SmokeParadise ParadoxBlack Pearl

(for detail on individual paintings click on their title)

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