Internationally renowned, Los Angeles-based artist Robert Graham (b. 1938, Mexico City) has explored the female figure in drawings, photographs, videos, and, especially, sculpture since the beginning of his career. The exhibition Body of Work reveals, for the first time in a museum context, a new phase in this exploration. Graham’s interest in capturing movement and animating individual presence has been apparent in even his most restfully posed sculptural nudes. Conversely, dynamic compositions inspired by dance manifest a deep and abiding concern for anatomical and facial detail that aligns them with still portraiture. In his new works, Graham pushes the depiction of movement to its most abstract form, distilling morphology to its essence and allowing the energy and idiosyncracy of pose to convey individualism. These nudes, like virtuosic three-dimensional sketches, simultaneously embody the vigorous gesture of both the sculptor and his model.
About the artist
Robert Graham was born in Mexico City in 1938 and studied at San Jose State College, B.A. (1961-1963) and the San Francisco Art Institute, M.F.A. (1963-1964.) Since 1964, his work has been the subject of over eighty solo exhibitions and two retrospective exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico. His work is part of many national and international museum collections.
His civic monuments include:
1984: "Olympic Gateway" to commemorate the XXIIIrd Olympiad in Los Angeles, California
1986: "Monument to Joe Louis" in Detroit, Michigan
1997: "Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial," Washington D.C. First Inaugural and Social Programs, and the "Prologue" to the FDR Memorial in 2001
1997: "Duke Ellington Memorial" in New York City's Central Park
1999: "Charlie 'Bird' Parker Memorial" in Kansas City, Missouri
2002: "The Great Bronze Doors" for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California
Public installations of sculptures in Los Angeles include the "Dance Door" at the Music Center Plaza; "Fountain Figures I-IV" at the Wells Fargo Plaza; and "Source Figure" at the First Interstate World Tower in downtown; "Dance Columns I and II" at the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden and Doumani Sculpture Garden at Rolfe Hall, both at University of California at Los Angeles; "Retrospective Column" at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "Torso" on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Robert Graham designed the "National Medal of Arts," presented by the President of the United States; "The Spirit of Liberty Award" presented by the People for the American Way; and "The California Governors' Award for the Arts."
In 1993, Robert Graham received the ACLU Freedom of Speech Award and the California Governor’s Award for his outstanding contribution to the Arts. In 2003, he received the award of the Commander of Merit of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
He works and lives in Venice, California