from Max's diary, August 14th:
K said later that she didn't cry until she was telling me. It's often that way. (Usually things don't seem completely real to me until I've told her.) She said: "I just heard that Elizabeth Murray died yesterday." For a split second I thought she meant Elizabeth Robinson--our house is so full of people now, or not people but their images, like a translucent version, their names, so many names in the air, and their work, their phrases mixed together--our house is full of poets. But then, in my memory, I saw Elizabeth Murray's art. And I pictured her from photographs, and from a television show a few years ago about artists.
"I was thinking of Pilgrim's Progress and of painters being pilgrims." - Elizabeth Murray
On each of the 4 walls hung a huge painting by Elizabeth Murray. There was only enough room for one per wall, their great shapes standing out with four to six inches--maybe even a foot--of depth, about 10 feet by 10 feet or more and really strong in the room. How did these paintings ever fit through the little doorway? We were completely disoriented. There was another door in one corner, slightly ajar, and I walked through it and found myself in a cramped hall, what I later realized would've been the offices of the gallery. I paused, eyeing some pieces of art hanging there, trying in vain to uncover the experience I'd been anticipating for months. A guy at a desk turned and asked if he could help me, I said no, that I was just looking, and he said, "This area isn't open to the public." I didn't say anything, didn't ask him for help with my confusion, I just walked back into the tiny gallery space. Kate was looking at the paintings. I whispered again, "How can this be the Paula Cooper?" K said, "But these are pretty great, right?" gesturing to the paintings she'd been taking in, intently, one by one. We looked at them together then, their construction, their paintedness. These were actual pieces of art that Elizabeth Murray had made, not reproductions, not pictures in magazines read hungrily in a little town 3,000 miles away.
"The first thing? The way she looks. I always thought she was a great looking person. I'd like to look like her."
What else do you think of? "She seemed strong. And friendly. Her work doesn't look like anyone else's work. There still aren't very many women artists who've gone as far as she did. And she went that far while being a decent person. She worked hard. She was determined, she had drive. And she got there. She seemed to have integrity.
"You just want to feel that there are women who are strong, who might have a good marriage, who have integrity, and who manage to get there. I didn't know her. I don't know who she really was. But you need people out there who can--is 'example' the word? You need people out there who inspire you to keep going. She's one of those people."
"Yikes is my favorite cup painting because it reminds me of a forest.
"I thought of the little mars violet spiral as the voice of the heart or the real inner part of the shape."
. . .
. . .