robert murrayRobert Murray
Duet (Homage to David Smith), 1965
Steel and epoxy paint
119 x 47 x 208 inches
(Before restoration)

Paint layer excavation


Robert Murray
(Canadian b. 1936)

The monumental planar forms of Duet (Homage to David Smith) are typical of Robert Murray’s sculpture in the early 1960s. The carefully balanced geometric composition, derived from three sheets of one−inch thick steel becomes a “self−supporting sculpture” that is like a beacon on the landscape. Although the formal characteristics of his work have altered during the years, color is an important and constant component of Murray’s sculptures; variations in scale and gestural shapes are also not uncommon.

Duet (Homage to David Smith) was fabricated at the Bethlehem Steel shipyard in San Pedro, CA, the only facility in the area equipped to handle and form metal at the weight and dimensions Murray required. When the project was completed, a worker, newly won over to the cause of art, described it as “an honest use of steel.” The metal was donated by Triangle Steel Company and General Pipe and Supply. The original, custom−mixed epoxy paint was provided by Flexcoat Corporation, Los Angeles.

Over the years, Duet suffered damage from the elements and degradation of paint. Upon excavation, conservators found thirteen layers of paint that showed a marked difference in colors over the years. In collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute, Rosa Lowinger and Associates, and Murrary himself, Duet was recently treated for conservation needs and restored to its originally intended color

Born in 1936 in Vancouver, Canada, Robert Murray is a sculptor best known for his monumental outdoor works made of steel and aluminum. In 1999, the National Gallery of Canada at Ottawa held a major retrospective of his work, and he has also held exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Betty Parsons Gallery, New York. He currently lives and works in New York.

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