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Lynden Sculpture Garden opens exhibition of works by Robert Murray
Installation view. Photo: Daniel McCullough.


MILWAUKEE, WIS.- Lynden continues its series of exhibitions exploring small-scale works by artists in the permanent collection. Robert Murray (b. 1936, Canada) is represented on Lynden’s grounds by Windfall, a painted metal sculpture made in 1966. In this exhibition, curator Jonathan D. Lippincott brings together some of the artist’s working models as well as the Trent Series, a suite of ten woodblock prints Murray made in the 1990s.

The Working Models, which number more than three dozen, document large-scale works from throughout Robert Murray’s career. Each model is a both a finished work in its own right and a proposal for a large-scale sculpture. A model would typically serve several purposes in the process of making a large-scale work as well: it would be a point of reference for the fabricators Murray worked with to estimate costs and time, and would be used as a visual guide in building the larger sculpture. A model would also be shown to collectors, museum directors, gallery owners, and architects, to help them visualize the work, and to plan for the installation of the final work.

The Working Models have been exhibited together in different groupings since 1983, when they were first presented at Phillips Exeter Academy. They have travelled to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, in British Columbia, the Centro Culturale Canadase, in Rome, and the Delaware Art Museum, among other venues. They provide the opportunity to consider a body of work that could not otherwise be brought together, given the logistical challenges of moving and exhibiting large-scale sculptures. Taken together, they offer an excellent overview of Murray’s prolific work over the last sixty years. -- Jonathan D. Lippincott

Printmaking has always been a part of Murray’s practice, though an episodic one. According to Lippincott, Murray used printmaking—particularly woodblock printing, which he learned from Will Barnet at Emma Lake—as a way to explore ideas, particularly about color, that were related to his sculpture. Murray produced several series of prints in the early 1990s, cutting and building the blocks himself. The Trent Series is based on a collection of banners Murray designed for Trent University; both the prints and the banners are loosely inspired by his 1963 sculpture Fergus.

Robert Murray grew up in western Canada and moved to New York City in 1960. Quickly established as an important young artist, he took part in the renaissance of modern sculpture and public art that unfolded over the following decades. Murray was innovative in his use of industrial fabrication methods to create his pieces and in his deep investigation of landscape as inspiration for abstract sculpture. His synthesis of the rich tradition of landscape painting in Canada and the exciting vision of New York abstract expressionist and color-field painting has resulted in an extraordinary and unique body of work. Murray was awarded the Order of Canada in 2000 and received the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Grant Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018.










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