Installation view of “Jesse Murry” at David Zwirner, New York

 

MARKING THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing its first report about what would become known as AIDS, David Zwirner is presenting More Life, a special series dedicated to artists who died from HIV/AIDS-related ailments during the first two decades of the epidemic.

Since June, the gallery has been staging exhibitions of Jesse Murry, Marlon Riggs, Derek Jarman, Mark Morrisroe, Frank Moore, Ching Ho Cheng, and the collective Silence=Death, that continue through this fall.

The current show focuses on North Carolina-born Jesse Murry (1948–1993). A painter and poet, Murry made abstract paintings possessed with both drama and beauty, in which “the horizon was both his central image and guiding ideal, as the moment where near and far, inside and outside, self and other could be negotiated and reconciled.”

A painter and poet, Jesse Murry made lyrical abstract paintings in which “the horizon was both his central image and guiding ideal, as the moment where near and far, inside and outside, self and other could be negotiated and reconciled.”

At Sarah Lawrence College, Murry studied art and philosophy and after graduating in 1976, he moved to New York City. In those early years, he published essays about artists, guest-curated the exhibition “Currents: The Reverend Howard Finster” at the New Museum, and taught art history and Hobart and William Smith Colleges for two years, before enrolling as a graduate student at Yale University at age 36. He later had his first solo show in New York at Sharpe Gallery (1987).

Seven paintings by Murry are on view at David Zwirner through Oct. 23. The paintings were made between 1987 and 1992, during the last five years of the artist’s life as he confronted his mortality.

“Jesse Murry: Rising” is co-curated by artist Lisa Yuskavage, who is represented by David Zwirner and has a concurrent show at the gallery, and writer/curator Jarrett Earnest. Yuskavage attended Yale with Murry, where they both received their MFAs in 1986.

“I met Jesse at my Yale interview.… He was the most erudite person I ever met,” Yuskavage wrote in a memorial tribute to Murry published in Art in America in 2011. “He would come to my studio, and what he said about my work stays with me to this day.”

In a 1984 statement about his own work, Murry said: “If there is a general theme or idea concerning my work, beyond the delight in color or form, it is to create a space in which the viewer can be as creative in looking as I am when I am painting. There is plenty of space for the viewer to actively participate with his imagination, but initially he is grabbed by color and its magical capacity to shape a world.” CT

 

IMAGES: Top, Installation view of “Jesse Murray: Rising,” David Zwirner, 533 West 19th Street, New York, N.Y. (Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2021); Above left, Jesse Murry holding one of John Constable’s brushes, 1991. | Photo by Richard Constable. | Courtesy David Zwirner

 

“Jesse Murray: Rising” is on view at David Zwirner, 533 West 19th Street, New York, N.Y., Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2021

 


JESSE MURRY, “Deluge—After Turner,” circa 1990-1991 (oil and wax on linen, 30 3/4 x 31 inches / 78.1 x 78.7 cm). | © The Estate of Jesse Murry. Courtesy The Estate of Jesse Murry and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York

 


Installation view of “Jesse Murray: Rising,” David Zwirner, 533 West 19th Street, New York, N.Y. (Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2021). | Courtesy David Zwirner

 


JESSE MURRY, “Rising,” 1992 (oil and beeswax on canvas, 20 x 20 inches / 50.8 x 50.8 cm). | © The Estate of Jesse Murry. Courtesy The Estate of Jesse Murry and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York

 


Installation view of “Jesse Murray: Rising,” David Zwirner, 533 West 19th Street, New York, N.Y. (Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2021). | Courtesy David Zwirner

 


JESSE MURRY, “Untitled,” 1991 (oil and wax on canvas, 48 1/2 x 47 3/4 inches / 123.2 x 121.3 cm). | © The Estate of Jesse Murry. Courtesy The Estate of Jesse Murry and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York

 


Installation view of “Jesse Murray: Rising,” David Zwirner, 533 West 19th Street, New York, N.Y. (Sept. 17-Oct. 23, 2021). | Courtesy David Zwirner

 

FIND MORE In 2019, the exhibition “Jesse Murry: Radical Solitude” was on view at Tibor de Nagy gallery in New York

 

BOOKSHELF
“Painting is a Supreme Fiction: Writings by Jesse Murry, 1980-1993” is a new publication dedicated to the writings of artist Jesse Murry. Jarrett Earnest edited the volume and authored the introduction. Hilton Als contributed the foreword. The contents include Murry’s critical writing and poetry, color plates of 16 paintings, and reproduced pages from two of his hand-written notebooks.

 

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