Elizabeth Murray was born in Chicago in 1940. She earned a BFA at the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California. As a student, she was influenced by painters ranging from Cezanne, to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. She was an iconoclast in the art world and continued to paint when painting was considered “dead.” Murray broke art historical tradition with her distinctively shaped canvases and brought content into abstraction with her unique depiction of domestic life. She was a master of bold, bright colors, shaped canvases, abstract compositions, and layered paint.
Murray received the Skowhegan Medal in Painting in 1986, the Larry Aldrich Prize in Contemporary Art in 1993, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award in 1999. Her work is featured in many collections, including Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Murray lived and worked in New York. In 2005, her 40-year career was honored with a retrospective at New York City's Museum of Modern Art. The show was widely praised, with the New York Times noting that by the end of the exhibition, "You're left with the sense of an artist in the flush of her authority and still digging deep”. Unfortunately, Murray’s career was shortened when she died of cancer in August 2007.