National Museum of Women in the Arts
Nancy Graves
December 23 1940 - October 21 1995
Photograph of Nancy Graves, 1985, by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, courtesy of the photographer.
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
NAN-see gray-vz
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Painting, Sculpture, Textiles and clothing
Artistic Role(s):
Assemblage Artist, Bronze Worker, Costume Designer, Filmmaker, Graphic Designer, Installation Artist, Lithographer, Mixed Media Artist , Multimedia Artist, Oil Painter, Painter, Printmaker, Sculptor, Watercolorist, Set Designer
Conceptual Art
Artist's Biography:
Nancy Graves was born in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1940. Childhood visits to the local Berkshire Museum, which housed art and natural history collections, fulled her dual interest in art and science. A Vassar College student, Graves pursued a graduate degree at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture. She studied in Paris and Florence on a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and became a resident at the American Academy in Rome in 1979. Graves eventually established herself in New York and had her first exhibition at the Graham Gallery in 1968. Among her first installations were life-size sculptures of camels made of wood, steel, burlap, polyurethane, skin, wax, and oil.

In the early 1970s, Graves briefly put sculpture aside to experiment with painting, creating brightly colored abstract works based on geography, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and computer mapping. Graves returned to sculpture in the late 1970s, arranging plants, flowers, fish, and other organic forms with fans, colanders, and assorted tools into balanced bronze sculptures in bright colored patinas.

After her death of cancer in 1995, the Nancy Graves Foundation was established with the mission of distributing grants, maintaining Graves's archive and work, and organizing exhibitions of her art.

Other Occupation(s):
Teacher, Traveler
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Where Trained/Schools:
American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy (1979) School of Art and Architecture, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA (1961-1964) Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA (1957-1961)
Related Visual Artists:
student of Rosemarie Beck student of Alton Pickens student of William Bailey student of Alex Katz student of Philip Guston student of Louis Finkelstein student of Edwin Dickinson student of Jack Tworkov student of Al Held friend of Philip Glass friend of JoAnne Akalitis wife of Richard Serra wife of Avery Smith influenced by Clemente Susini colleague of Richard Polich colleague of Maurice Beaudet colleague of Susan Rothenberg
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Yale Arts Award for Distinguished Artistic Achievement, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA (1985) Creative Artists Public Service Grant, New York State Council on the Arts, New York, USA (1974) Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1972)
Earliest exhibition:
Nancy Graves: Camels, Graham Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1968)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers
Artist retrospective(s):
Nancy Graves: A Retrospective, Ameringer and Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY, USA (2005)
Related places
New York (died at)
Fluttering of Wings and Skirts