Born in 1940 in Chicago, Illinois, Elizabeth Murray earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1962 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Mills College in Oakland, California in 1964. In 1976 she settled in New York and, for a short time, she abandoned painting in favor of interdisciplinary and multimedia works. In 1977 she resumed painting and received her first one-person exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.
Murray’s work was included in the Whitney Museum of Art’s Biennial Exhibitions in 1973, 1979 and 1985 and a survey of her paintings and drawings was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art in 1987. In 1990 Murray turned to lithography as the closest approximation of her drawings and a collaboration with poet, Anne Waldman combined lithography and etching. Also during 1990, a retrospective of her prints toured to museums throughout the United States and Japan.
Murray has held visiting faculty appointments at several American colleges and universities, including The Art Institute of Chicago, California Institute of the Arts, Princeton University, Yale University, the New York School of Visual Arts and the New York Studio School.
Murray received the Walter M. Campana Award from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1984, the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1986, the Larry Aldrich Prize in Contemporary Art in 1993 and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award in 1999. She was honored by Artists Space in New York in 2001.
In 1992 Murray became a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters and in 2002, Murray and her husband were honored by the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado with its’ National Artist Award.