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Elizabeth Murray

Spoon Drawing for Max



Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007)


Spoon Drawing for Max




Collage and pastel on paper


Sheet (Irregular): 40 7/8 × 38 1/2 in. (103.8 × 97.8 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Susan and Arthur Fleischer

Accession number


Object Label

Beginning in the 1970s, Elizabeth Murray’s pictorial language took on a cartoon-like tone and became increasingly animated. For Murray, a painting was, at its essence, an event that set color, form, and the viewer’s thoughts and feelings in motion. In Spoon Drawing for Max, the oddly-shaped, meticulously shaded forms appear to swoop up and down across the canvas, back and forth, and—most unusually—toward and away from the viewer. This drawing, like many of Murray’s works, is an almost sculptural object, with its powerful forms and aggressive projection forward from the wall. The humble, even quotidian subject suggested by Murray’s title relates to her interest in domestic and figurative iconography—in particular, her self-described fascination with “babies, spoons, and organs” in advance of the birth of her daughter, Daisy—around the time she made this drawing.