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ELIZABETHTOWN
by Charlie Finch
 
"Elizabeth Murray," Oct. 23, 2005-Jan. 9, 2006, at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10010

A pack of late-middle-aged scenesters jammed the Museum of Modern Art last night to pay homage to Elizabeth Murray, demonstrably the worst artist of her generation. (Apologies to our pal Rob Storr, the curator, who did yeomanlike work trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.)

Early rinky-dink ladder paintings, a curdled homage to Agnes Martin, quickly give way to the vile, poorly painted shaped canvases that are the worst art gimmick of the last 25 years. A Painter’s Progress from 1981, for example, looks like regurgitated Pepto Bismol.

Every gross shade of yellow ochre is attempted in a room full of 1980s abortions. Distracting oneself by meditating on more accomplished shape-shifters such as Joan Miró quickly induces nausea.

How bad can Murray get, you ask? Try Wishing for the Farm from 1991, a bloated abomination that resembles Jabba the Hut on an off day.

Then there is a sea serpent with indigestion from 1995 called What Is Love?, better titled What Is Ugly? A beautiful anonymous female friend, when faced with this bottomless pit of bad painting, commented, "I wouldn’t let her sell me art, but I’d let her build me a playground."

There’s nothing worse than encouraging an artist with no talent. Murray, who has had plenty of enablers over the years, is the black hole of no talent.

Recent efforts, more brightly hued than the older faded canvases in the show, are no improvement.

A rare square effort, used to illustrate some MoMA literature, called Bounding Dog, looks like Sisley on crack or Kenny Scharf straight. Summer Wind, with all its revolting browns and greens, must have blown through a sewer. Bop, illustrative of the terrible titles that scar this horrible work, is listed as "collection of Arne Glimcher."

Trust us -- there was one painting we wanted to love. The Sun and the Moon looks almost good, until you spot Freddy Kreuger as Gumby leaping for your throat.

Don’t hate us for hating this show. Just hate this horrible work.


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).