from the exhibition catalog SEEING INTO THE ABSTRACT
by Sundaram Tagore
Judith Murray was born in New York City in 1941. She began painting at an early age, partly as the result of a childhood illness that kept her indoors. Over the years, her painting developed into her passion and her profession. Thanks to this early start, as the art critic Lilly Wei has said, "Murray developed a series of obsessions, enthusiasms, and preoccupations" that ultimately enabled her to create her own personal visual signature.
After completing her studies and receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Pratt Institute in New York, Murray was hired as artist-in–residence by the United States Information Agency. She accompanied an exhibition of graphic art that traveled throughout Poland in 1965. During that time she completed a series of prints that gave definition to her work.
Murray’s first one-person exhibition in New York took place at the renowned Betty Parsons Gallery in 1976. Her early works were spare, assertive, and eccentric, with abstract fields occupied by personalized expressive, hard-edged configurations. Her nonconformist approach drew attention to her work, and in 1978 she was invited to mount a solo exhibition at the Clocktower Gallery of the Institute for Art and Urban Resources in New York. This was the first of many solo and group exhibitions in public venues, including the 1979 Whitney Biennial, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, P.S. I (three exhibitions), the Bronx Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, and others. She has exhibited extensively at university museums throughout the country, having participated in thirty-one exhibitions over the years, and has had numerous exhibitions at galleries both nationally and internationally.
Murray was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in 2002 and a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1983. During the 1980s and 1990s, she was commissioned by Lincoln Center to produce three posters for its Mostly Mozart Festival.
It was also during the 1980s that she visited the Florida Keys for the first time, becoming so enamored of the area that she established a studio in Key West and, more recently, in Big Pine Key. Murray divides her time between New York City in the winter and the Keys in the summer. She also continues to travel extensively, visiting Southeast Asia, South America, and, especially, India.
In her recent paintings, Murray has slowly developed her expressive content. Lilly Wei writes, "Her latest work refers more to the natural world but as sensation, as energy and flow, formalized through color, brushstrokes, scale." It’s "as if she turned on the heat, upped the sense of urgency and drama," Wei continues. "The surface is allover, it would resemble a mosaic except that it is plumed, softened, the space layered, screened, visible through the flicker of feathered strokes that float across, up and down slowly, quickly."
Murray creates works that have both depth of field and shallow ground. Her paintings are rich and complex in nature, embodying the lushness of the natural world in her contemporary abstract language.
from exhibition catalogue 2003
Sundaram Tagore is an art historian whose writings are published in numerous art magazines and journals. He founded the Sundaram Tagore Gallery that is devoted to examining the confluence of Western and non-Western cultures in contemporary art.
Permanent Warmth, 2003, oil on linen, 26" x 28"