Skip to content
Nancy Graves

Throughout her life, Nancy Graves (1939 -1995) had a long relationship with Texas, and Houston in particular, so it is with great pride and pleasure that Texas Gallery brings her work back to Houston in an exhibition of both paintings and sculptures from a major period in her career. In cooperation with The Nancy Graves Foundation, Texas Gallery will exhibit a selected group of paintings and cast bronze sculptures from the 1980s from September 8 through October 29, 2011. Rarely has any artist been able to meld the formal concerns and mediums of painting and sculpture into seamless harmony in the manner of Nancy Graves. Beginning with experiments in materials and process, so prevalent in the late 1960s in the work of her peers such as Lynda Benglis, Robert Morris, Richard Serra and Richard Tuttle, Graves made work that naturally flowed from 3 dimensions into 2 and back again, a working method that would continue throughout her whole career. Eschewing a rigid interpretation of form and any limitations of color, she subversively and originally challenged her peers with a refusal to make art that was only self referential. Basing her work on natural references that were then transformed into formal abstract elements, she used the whole world as her source of inspiration, creating works that displayed lyricism, exuberance and humor. Drawing, mapping, patterning occurred in both paintings and sculpture and elements appropriated from the real world were recast. Fruit, ferns and flowers, tools and toys, fish, ropes and fans all became the structural elements of the bronze work while outlines of some of these same things became the elements of tracery in the paintings. There is no doubt that her wide-ranging travels influenced her but so did household items in her kitchen and detritus from the studio and foundry which she then absorbed into her broad knowledge of all art history. This exhibition deliberately juxtaposes paintings with sculptures to emphasize the exchange of color and form. Both the sculpture and painting attest to her absorption of wide influences and her peripatetic manner. Or as Barbara Rose wrote: “An explorer, experimenter, omnivorous reader and world traveler, Graves incorporated elements from the cultures she encountered in her extensive travels. In the early 80s she traveled to India, Nepal, Kashmir and China, as well as Egypt, Peru and Europe. Her extraordinarily rich iconography derived from a wide range of sciences, including anatomy, paleontology, anthropology, computer mapping, and psychology of perception. Nancy Graves was not a simple person and she did not make simple art. “ Two of Graves’ major works are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a retrospective of her work was presented at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston in 1980. The Nancy Graves Foundation was established in 1996 to give grants to individual artists and to maintain an archive of her life and work and organize exhibitions of her art. click here :

Back To Top