Great blue ovals collide against stiff trapezoids, twining yellow tendrils tie them all together: as abstract form, Dis Pair has a springy rhythmic dynamism. Yet it also applies the stylistic vocabulary of the comic strip to depicting a pair of shoes. Besides being wittily distorted and distended, these shoes are over ten feet high, using a strategy of enlargement prefigured in Claes Oldenburg's Pop sculpture; and Pop art also anticipated Murray's interest in the commonplaces of domestic life, which she paints on an undomestic, even heroic, scale. Murray dramatizes the beautiful ordinariness of familiar objects. "I paint about the things that surround me," she says, "things that I pick up and handle every day. That's what art is. Art is an epiphany in a coffee cup."
Standing out from the wall in relief, the surface of Dis Pair suggests a stretched and rounded skin—perhaps these curving forms humorously evoke heads and faces, and their visual relationship the relationship of a human couple. The title of the work certainly puns on the slang word "dis," or "dis-respect," and also, more gravely, on "despair." The household bond described here must be strained, but the tension seems more everyday than tragic: the suspense in the airborne lift of these grand swelling forms, and in their taut interaction, is subverted by their humor and their clunky domesticity.
Dis Pair. 1989-90
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 69.