In 1978, Elizabeth Murray (1940 – 2007) made a series of irregular, star-shaped paintings with the aim, she said, of “trying to complicate and obfuscate the edges” of her medium. Indeed, the jostling contours and vivid colors of Onceappear to explode outward, as if pressing the very form on the canvas into new arrangements. Murray’s dynamic compositions, charged brush strokes, and radical disruption of the frame transform the picture plane into both surface and object. While these paintings appear purely abstract, hints of imagery and reference return in subsequent works. Drawing on Cubism, Surrealism and Minimalism, Murray’s fragmented geometries and biomorphic shapes reinvigorated formalist painting in the 1970s and 1980s.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
By the 1970’s, Lichtenstein turned his eye toward the history of art, appropriating figures and motifs from the first half of the twentieth century and repainting them with Benday dots – the means of shading in newsprint and magazine pictures – in his signature palette of bright primary colors. For Stepping Out, (1978), he took one of Fernand Leger’s famous compositions, Three Musicians (1944), and added a female figure whose dramatically reduced and displaced features resemble the Surrealist women painted by Picasso in the 1930s.
Roy Lichtenstein’s Stepping Out is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
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On This Date in 1978: The Clash released its fifth single, “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.” This song contains my very favorite Clash lyrics, ever: “Turning Rebellion Into Money.” If that isn’t a concise manifesto for Punk Rock – and Rock & Roll in general – I don’t know what is.
On This Date, April 21st in 1978: Sandy Denny (born Alexandra Elene Maclean Denny) of the British folk rock band Fairport Convention died of a cerebral hemorrhage, one month after falling down a flight of stairs at a friend’s house. She was 31 years old. Denny has the distinction of being the only guest singer, ever, on a Led Zeppelin album, having contributed co-vocals with Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin IV’s“Battle of Evermore.”
On This Date, February 25th, in 1978: Nick Lowe released his debut album, Jesus Of Cool (entitled Pure Pop for Now People in the states). It contained the singles “(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass,” “Little Hitler” and “So It Goes,” and well as fan favorites like “Marie Provost” – with its uber-dark lyrical humor – and Lowe’s delirious ode to Bay City Rollers fanatics everywhere, “Rollers Show.” Absolutely indispensable British Power Pop.
On This Date, October 30th in 1978: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, the made-for-TV movie starring KISS premiered on NBC. Despite the poor reviews, the film has attained a cult status. I remember watching this piece of crap with my parents in the same room and being beyond embarrassed by how bad it was and by the collectively shitty acting job KISS did. Today, it would probably be hilarious fun to watch with a gang of your forty-something friends, depending on how wasted you were. Actually, I’m putting that activity on my “To Do” list right now.
On This Date, September 7th in 1978: Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, died in London of an overdose of Hemenephirin, a drug he was taking to cure his alcoholism. He was 32. I still remember that day like it just happened; what a fucking tragedy. In an oddly related story, on this same date in 1985, drummer Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) and his wife Sarah welcomed their first child, daughter Tatia Jayne. Starkey has played drums for The Who since 1994, and actually received his first professional drum kit from Moon, who is also his Godfather. That kit later sold at Sotheby’s auction house for £12,000.