Nancy Graves

Statement/Biography

NANCY GRAVES (1939 – 1995)


Nancy Graves  is an American artist of international renown. A prolific cross-disciplinary artist, Graves developed a sustained body of sculptures, paintings, drawings, watercolors, and prints. She also produced five avant-garde films and created innovative set designs.


Born in Pittsfield Massachusetts, Graves graduated from Vassar College in 1961. She then earned an MFA in painting at Yale University in 1964, where her classmates included Robert Mangold, Rackstraw Downes, Brice Marden, Chuck Close, as well as Richard Serra with whom she was married from 1964 to 1970. Five years after graduating, her career was launched in 1969 when she was the youngest artist — and only the fifth woman — to be selected for a solo presentation at the Whitney Museum of Art. Graves’ work was subsequently featured in hundreds of museum and gallery exhibitions worldwide, including several solo museum exhibitions. She was awarded commissions for large-scale site-specific sculptures and her work is in the permanent collections of major art museums. A frequent lecturer and guest artist, her work was widely documented during her lifetime. In 1991 she married veterinarian Dr. Avery Smith. Graves travelled extensively and was fully engaged with the cultural and intellectual issues of her times. Her brilliant career and life were cut short by her untimely death from cancer at age 54. 


From a point of view that she described as “objective,” Graves transformed scientific sources, such as maps and diagrams, into artworks by re-producing their complex visual information in detailed paintings and drawings. Investigating the intersections between art and scientific disciplines, Graves created compelling, formally rigorous, yet ultimately expressive works of art that examine concepts of repetition, variation, verisimilitude, and the presentation and perception of visual information.


Based in SoHo, New York, Graves gained prominence in the late 1960s as a post-Minimalist artist for innovative camel, fossil, totem, and bone sculptures that were hand formed and assembled from unusual materials such as fur, burlap, canvas, plaster, latex, wax, steel, fiberglass and wood. Made in reaction to Pop and Minimalism, these works reference archaeological sites, anthropology, and natural science displays. Suspended from the ceiling or clustered directly on the floor, these early sculptures also engage with Conceptualist ideas of display. For her Whitney Museum presentation Graves exhibited three seemingly realistic sculptures of camels in an installation that evoked taxidermy specimens and questioned issues of verisimilitude in art and science, particularly in light of their hand patched and painted fur surfaces. The exhibition elicited wide spread critical responses and established her artistic significance.


After intensely engaging with sculpture in the early 1970s, Graves returned to painting. Her detailed pointillist canvasses re-produced — in paint — images culled from documentary nature photographs, NASA satellite recordings, and Lunar maps, commingling scientific exactitude with abstraction. Resuming sculpture in the late 1970s, Graves was among the first contemporary artists to experiment with bronze casting. She re-invigorated the traditional lost wax technique by assembling cast found objects into unique improbably balanced sculptures, with bright polychrome surfaces and distinctive patinas.


Throughout the 1980s Graves became widely recognized for her increasingly large and graceful open-form sculpture commissions. At the same time, she also expanded her drawing, painting, and printmaking practice and made large gestural watercolors. Then, in the late 1980s she created wall-mounted works that combined her explorations of sculpture, painting, form and color. In these large-scale pieces, she mounted high relief polychrome sculptural elements to the surfaces and edges of painted shaped canvases so that patterned shadows were cast onto the paintings and surrounding wall.


By the 1990s Graves was casting in glass, resin, paper, aluminum, and bronze, combining these varied materials and colors into daring sculptures with moving parts. As she proceeded in all the media she mastered, Graves increasingly re interpreted and transmuted forms sourced from her own earlier artwork — rather than from outside research — creating elaborate compositions that form a layered a-temporal archaeology of her own visual production.


Nancy Graves’ pioneering art anticipated ideas being explored by artists today such as data mining, multi disciplinarity, technology, and research-based art. Her work addresses philosophical, perceptual, aesthetic and technological issues that are especially relevant to making art in the digital age.


                        -Nancy Graves Foundation


 


CV


SOLO EXHIBITIONS


The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA. Paintings by N. Stevenson Graves, 1964.
Graham Gallery, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Camels, 1968.  
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Camels, 1969.
Reese Palley, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, 1971.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Shaman, 1971.
Reese Palley, San Francisco, CA. Nancy Graves: Sculpture/ drawings/ films, 1971.
Neue Galerie im Alten Kurhaus, Aachen, Germany. Nancy Graves: Skulpturen, Zeichnungen, Filme, 1971.
Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY. Nancy Graves, 1971.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, 1972
The New Gallery, Cleveland, OH. Nancy Graves: Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Films, 1972.
Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves: Sculpture and Drawings, 1970 – 72, September 22 – November 1, 1972. Traveled to: Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, December 1, 1972 – January 7, 1973.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Dallas, TX. Nancy Graves, October 14 – December 8, 1972.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa “Variability and Repetition of Variable Forms” by Nancy Graves, January 18 – March 18, 1973.
The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA. Recent Works by Nancy Graves, May 5 – 31, 1973.           
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA. Nancy Graves, August 25 – October 7, 1973. Traveled to Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX, October 18 – November 29, 1973.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Dallas, TX. Nancy Graves Satellite Images: Drawings and Paintings on Paper, October 30 – November 30, 1973.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Paintings, March 16 – April 3, 1974.
Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Nancy Graves: Drawings, April 3 – May 5, 1974.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves, May 25 – July 15, 1974.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Recent Paintings & Drawings/ for the Benefit of The John A. Beck Memorial Lecture Fund, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 22 – April 30, 1975.
André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Work, February 5 – March 2, 1977.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: New Paintings and Pastels, March 5 – May 13, 1977.
Galerie André Emmerich, Zurich, Switzerland. Nancy Graves: New Paintings and Works on Paper, July 1 – August 27, 1977.
Getler/Pall Gallery, New York, NY. New Prints by Nancy Graves, August 22 – September 24, 1977.
Torre Pines Space, La Jolla, CA. Nancy Graves: Hand Painted Etchings, November 1978.
Schlosshofgalerie, Kisslegg, Germany. Nancy Graves: Bilder, Gouachen, Aquarelle, December 3, 1977 – January 8, 1978.
Hammarskjold Plaza, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, New Work, February 6 – April 30, 1978.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Paintings, February 18 – March 9, 1978.
Gallery Diane Gilson, Seattle, WA. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture, Recent Watercolors, Pastels, and Etchings, September 14 – October 14, 1978.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Recent Paintings, Watercolors and Sculptures, November 11 – December 31, 1978.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Paintings, February 17 – March 8, 1979.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Painting and Sculpture, March 8 – 27, 1980.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Nancy Graves: A Survey, 1969 – 1980, May 3 – June 15, 1980. Traveled to Akron Art Institute, Akron, OH, July 5 – August 31, 1980; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, September 20 – October 26, 1980; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, TN, November 15, 1980 – January 6, 1981; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY, January 25 – March 15, 1981; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, March 30 – May 3, 1981; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, May 31 – July 12, 1981.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Sculpture and Painting, April 4 – 23, 1981.
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, IL. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture and Paintings, November 6 – December 12, 1981.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Sculpture, October 16 – November 11, 1982
Knoedler Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Nancy Graves: Skulpturen und Bilder, December 11, 1982 – January 15, 1983.
Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA. Nancy Graves: Painting & Sculpture, 1978-82, February 5 – March 13, 1983.
Gloria Luria Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, FL. Nancy Graves, March 11 – 31, 1983.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Recent Paintings and Watercolors, April 15 – May 28, 1983.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Bronze Sculpture, March 10 – 29, 1984.
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Paintings 1972-1983, September 22 – October 27, 1984.
The Greenberg Gallery, St. Louis, MO. Nancy Graves: The Australia Series, September 14 – November 2, 1985.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture, December 7, 1985 – January 8, 1986.
Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY. Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, 1980-85, April 17 – June 11, 1986. Traveled to The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA, July 5 – August 31, 1986; The David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Providence, RI, September 6 – October 5, 1986.
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, IL. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture, September 27 – November 8, 1986.
Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Works on Paper, December 6, 1986 – January 3, 1987.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (Organized by the Fort Worth Art Museum). Nancy Graves: A Sculpture Retrospective, February 19 – April 26, 1987. Traveled to The Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, May 17 – July 12, 1987; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, August 29 – October 25, 1987; The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, December 11, 1987 – February 29, 1988.
Ochi Gallery, Boise, ID. Nancy Graves: Recent Watercolors, February 23 – March 25, 1987.
Knoedler Gallery Ltd., London, England. Nancy Graves, April 8 – May 9, 1987.
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA. Exhibition at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts during the Ceremony for an Award to Nancy Graves for American, November 20, 1987.
Associated American Artists, New York, NY.  Nancy Graves: Prints 1972 – 1988, January 5 – 30, 1988.
Knoedler & Co., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Recent Sculpture, January 6 – 28, 1988.
The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA. Nancy Graves: Three Sculptures, Mid-March 1988 – March 17, 1989.
Heland Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden. Nancy Graves: Sculptures and Paintings, April 28 –  May 31, 1988.
Gallery Mukai, Tokyo, Japan. Nancy Graves, May 21 – June 25, 1988.
Memphis Brooks Art Museum, Memphis, TN. Masterwork of the Month, September 1988.
Knoedler Kasmin Gallery, London, England. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture, April 4 – May 4, 1989.
Knoedler & Company, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Work, October 7 – 28, 1989.
Linda Cathcart Gallery, Santa Monica, CA. Nancy Graves, November 11 – December 9, 1989.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. Nancy Graves, The Clash of Cultures: New Paintings on Paper and Sculpture, July 3 – 15, 1990.  Traveled to Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas, TX, September 15 – October 6, 1990.
Wetterling Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden. Nancy Graves, October 6 – November 6, 1990.
Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves: Paradigm and Paradox, March 12 – April 27, 1991.
Meredith Long & Company, Houston, TX. Energy Fields Transfixed: Recent Works by Nancy Graves, April 12 – 30, 1991.
Irving Galleries, Palm Beach, FL. Nancy Graves: Alchemy of Time, February 11 – March 3, 1992.
Saff Tech Arts at Knoedler, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Unending Revolution of Venus, Plants, and Pendulum, March 31 – May 25, 1992.
Ludwig Forum für internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany. Nancy Graves, June 18 – August 30, 1992.
Margulies Taplin Gallery, Boca Raton, FL. Nancy Graves: Sculptures/Paintings/Drawings, February 4 – March 1, 1993.
Fine Arts Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Catonsville, MD  Nancy Graves: Recent Works, February 18 – March 27, 1993. Traveled to The Lamont Gallery, The Frederick R. Mayer Art Center, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH, September 17 – October 25, 1993; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, November 9 – December 24, 1993; The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA, February 26 – April 24, 1994; The Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, FL, June 1 – July 31, 1994.
Knoedler & Co., New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Bones, Gnomons & Longitude Series and Other New Sculpture, April 10 – May 6, 1993.
Betsy Senior Contemporary Prints, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Large Scale Etchings, June 3 – July 31, 1993.
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH. Lithographs Based on Geologic Maps of Lunar Orbiter and Apollo Landing Sites by Nancy Graves, September 15 – November 28, 1993.
Flanders Graphics, Minneapolis, MN. The Prints of Nancy Graves, December 4, 1993 – January 8, 1994.
Meredith Long & Company, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Recent Sculptures & Mixed Media Works, March 4 – April, 1994.
Brenau University Galleries, Gainsville, GA. Timepieces: A Collaboration of Nancy Graves with Saff Tech Arts, January 26 – March 5, 1995.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Nancy Graves: Contemporary Galleries Exhibition, May 1995 – September 1996.
Betsy Senior Gallery, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Paintings on Prints, September 7 – October 21, 1995.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (Organized by the American Federation of Arts, NY). Nancy Graves: Excavations in Print, January 26 – April 7, 1996. Traveled to Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, May 3 – July 14, 1996; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, August 9 – October 20, 1996; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, November 9, 1996 – January 12, 1997; Mitchell Art Gallery, St. Johns College, Annapolis, MD, September 5 – November 16, 1997; Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, VT, January 6 – February 22, 1998; Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene, NH, March 28 – May 2, 1998; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN, June 26 – September 7, 1998; The Bermuda National Gallery, Hamilton, Bermuda, September 26, 1998 – January 9, 1999.
Burlington Art Centre, Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Nancy Graves, American (1940-1995): Camels VI, VII, VIII, February 25 – March20, 1996.
Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves: In Memoriam, March 20 – April 30, 1996.
Knoedler & Company, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: New Sculpture/ Temptations of the Imagination, The Last Series, April 10 – May 24, 1996.
Hill Gallery, Birmingham, MI. Nancy Graves Sculpture: Bronze and Glass, August 1 – 31, 1997.
Knoedler & Company, New York, NY. Nancy Graves (1940 – 1995), Between Painting and Sculpture, A Selection from the Eighties, October 9 – November 1, 1997.
The University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, TX. Nancy Graves: Camel Investigations, January 20 – March 2, 1998.
The Bermuda National Gallery, Hamilton, Bermuda. Nancy Graves: 20 Years of Prints & Sculpture, September 26, 1998 – January 9, 1999.
2 RC Edizioni d’Arte, Rome, Italy. Omaggio a Nancy Graves: Incisioni e Sculture, November 19, 1998 – February 1999.
Gallery of the College of Staten Island, State University of New York, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Prints On Loan from the Nancy Graves Foundation, February 18 – March 18, 1999.
Pace Prints, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Prints of the 1980s & 1990s, October 29 – November 20, 1999.
Knoedler & Company, New York, NY. Nancy Graves Points of Departure: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, March 15 – April 20, 2000.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: Installation, summer 2000.
The Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA. Nancy Graves: Painting, Sculpture, and Works on Paper, January 12 – February 28, 2001.
Williams Center Art Gallery, Lafayette College, Easton, PA. Nancy Graves: Timepieces, September 4 – October 14, 2001.
Art Gallery of the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, NY. Nancy Graves, Breaking Boundaries: Sculpture, Painting and Drawing on Loan from the Nancy Graves Foundation, February 28 – April 20, 2002.
Knoedler & Company, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Aves, Forms in Flight, March 7 – April 27, 2002.
Meredith Long & Company, Houston, TX. Nancy Graves: An American Treasure (1939 – 1995), April 4 – 27, 2002.
Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH. Nancy Graves: Paintings and Prints, January 16 – April 17, 2004.
Gallery Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL. Nancy Graves, sculpture & works on paper, January 17 – February 5, 2005.
Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: A Retrospective, February 17 – April 2, 2005.
Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art Booth, Art Dealers Association of America at the Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, NY. The Art Show: Nancy Graves, February 24 – 28, 2005.
Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves: The Shining, Elusive Element, October 14 – November 12, 2005.
Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY. Nancy Graves 1970 – 1980, June 8 – July 28, 2006.
The Point of Contact Gallery, Syracuse, NY. Tango: Installation & Performance, October 18, 2007 – January 31, 2008.
Leslie Sacks Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA. Nancy Graves/The Pilchuck Series: Selected Monotypes, October 20 – November 19, 2007.
Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY. Nancy Graves: Bronze Sculpture of the 1980s, November 20 – December 22, 2007 and January 2 – 12, 2008.
Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves, Permanent Tension: Painting and Sculpture, February 27 – March 31, 2009.
Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, September 17 – October 24, 2009.
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA. Nancy Graves: Journey to North Africa, June 19 – October 31, 2010.
R & F Gallery, Kingston, NY. Nancy Graves Encaustics, October 2 – November 20, 2010.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY. Nancy Graves: A Memorial Exhibition, May 17 – August 28, 2011.
Ameringer, McEnery Yohe Gallery, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, November 22, 2011 – January 21, 2012.
Ludwig Forum Aachen, Aachen, Germany. Nancy Graves Project, October 13, 2013 – February 16, 2014.
Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. Nancy Graves; Synecdoche, December 6, 2013 – January 30, 2014.
Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York, NY.Nancy Graves, May 20, 2014 – June 27, 2014.
Mitchell-Innes and Nash Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Nancy Graves, January 29, 2015 – March 7, 2015.


 


Collections
Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, Chiago, IL
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen, Germany
Marimura Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX
Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, Austria
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, NY
New Museum, New York, NY
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Harbor, CA
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Sonjie Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
The Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
Whitney Museum of Art, New York, NY
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT