Dona Nelson

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April, 2008 Cheesecloth And Acrylic Medium On Canvas 90x60 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
April (back view), 2008 Cheesecloth And Acrylic Medium On Canvas 90x60 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
The Palmist Reveals the Future of Painting, 1992 Dyed Canvas Strips And Acrylic Mediums On Canvas 75x75 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
Line Street, 2007 Acrylic And Acrylic Mediums On Canvas 79x70 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
My Home IV, 2001 Cheesecloth And Acrylic Mediums On Canvas 90x60 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
No Title, 1977 Oil On Canvas 24x40 In © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
L: Pennsylvania Nativity; R: Postcard image (detail) of a church's nativity scene. © Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben, NY
Untitled, 2001 88 X 106 In. © courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery
© courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery
© courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery
Antilogy, 2008 © Courtesy of the artist & Thomas Erben Gallery
Lunar Eclipse , 2011 Acrylic On Canvas 48 X 48 Inches (121.9 X 121.9 Cm) © Courtesy of the artist & D'Amelio Terras
Phigor, 2014 Acrylic And Acrylic Medium On Canvas (Back, Front) 117 X 70 In. © Photo by Andreas Vesterlund, courtesy the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Carnivally, 2015 Acrylic And Acrylic Mediums On Canvas 83 X 78 In © Courtesy the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery
Quick Facts
Grand Island, Nebraska
Lives in
New York
Works in
New York
The Ohio State University
Representing galleries

Dona Nelson moved to New York City in 1968, after having received her B.F.A. from Ohio State University and attending the Whitney Independent Study Program in her senior year as an undergraduate.  Deeply rooted in Abstract Expressionism, Nelson actually came to attention in the 1980's for large-scale figurative work.  Overall, her practice has been characterized by a refusal to play it safe - she constantly pushes for new approaches, and a fresh originality.  Nelson has exhibited extensively throughout the past 35 years, and has been the receipient of many prestigious awards and grants, including The Tesuque Foundation Grant in 2000, the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1994, and an NEA Painting Grant in 1987.  Her exhibition, Brain Stain, in 2006 at Thomas Erben Gallery received much critical attention, including reviews in The Brooklyn Rail, and The New York Times.



Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. BFA.

Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York City.

Grants and Awards

2000. Tesuque Foundation Grant. Peer nominated.

1994. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

1987. NEA Painting Grant.

1971. Thoedoran Purchase Award, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Solo Exhibitions

2006. Brian Stain, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York.

2003. Tactile Image, Cheim and Read, New York.

2001. Stations of the Subway, Cheim and Read, New York.

2000. Dona Nelson The Stations of the Subway, Octopuses and Arrangements, Weatherspoon Art Gallery. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC. Curator, Ron Platt. Catalogue Essay by Klaus Kertess.

1999. Parks and Portraits, Dona Nelson, 1983 - 88, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philadelphia, PA. Essay by Sanford Schwartz.

1996. Michael Klein Gallery, New York.

1995, 1993, 1990. Michael Klein Gallery, New York.

1985. A room of painting at P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York.

1983. Hamilton Gallery, New York.

1982. Oscarsson Hood Gallery, New York.

1975. Rosa Esman Gallery, New York.

Selected Group Exhibitions

2007. CCS BARD SPRING Exhibitions, March, Bard College, New York.

2006. Scope Art Fair/Miami, Thomas Erben Gallery.

2006. Still Life, Monya Rowe Gallery, New York.

2005. Field Questions, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery,The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Curated by Sid Sachs

2004. Basil/Miami, Cheim and Read Gallery, New York.

2001. Vivid, Richard Salmon Gallery, London, England. Traveled to Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Center, Coventry (4/27 - 6/28/02) and to Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sutherland (7/12 - 8/23/02).

1998. Group Exhibition at Marborough Gallery/Chelsea, New York.

1998. Small Paintings, Cheim and Read, New York.

1998. View II, Mary Boone Gallery, New York. Curated by Klaus Kertess.

1997. Essential Guesture, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS. Curated by Bruce Harman.

1996. Face to Face: Recent Abstract Painting, M.I.T. List Visual Art Center, Cambridge, MA.

1996. Painting All-Over Again, Palacia de Montemuzok, Zaragoza, Spain. Curated by Saul Ostrow.

1996. Method and Multiplicity, Apex Art, New York City. Curated by Richmond Burton.

1995. 25 Americans, Painting in the 90's Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI.

1991. American Narrative Painting and Sculpture: The 1980's, from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY.

1985. Four Artists, Artists Space, New York. Curated by Elizabeth Murray.

1985. Ripe Friut, P.S.1, Long Island City, New York. Curated by Lisa Liebmann.

1984. The Figure in Paint, Cable Gallery, New York. Curated by Klaus Kertess.

1983. The Painterly Figure, The Parrish Art Museum, Southamption, New York. Curated by Klaus Kertess.

1983. Faces Since the Fifties: A Generation of American Portraiture, Center Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

1983. Painting from the Mind's Eye, Hillwood Art Museum, Long Island University, Brookville, New York.

1982. Body Language: Recent Figuration, Hayden Gallery, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA.

1982. Contemporary Painting: Figuration, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA.

1972. Grids, ICA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

1971. 26 Contemporary Women Artists, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT. Curated by Lucy Lippard.

1971. 10 Young Artists: Theodoran Awards, Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York.

1968. Whitney Independent Study Program, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City.

Selected Bibliography


Edith Newhall, "Get Thee to Elkins Park," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/12.

2006, "Dona Nelson at Thomas Erben," 9/14.

Carrie Moyer, "Brain Stain," The Brooklyn Rail, October.

Holland Cotter, "Art in Review; Dona Nelson," The New York Times, 9/22.

Stephen Maine, "Dona Nelson at Thomas Erben," Art in America, December, p.149.


Stephen Westfall, "Dona Nelson at Chiem and Read," Art in America, June, pp. 117-118.

Jerry Saltz, "Ray of Light,", January 27.

Unsigned, "Previews," Contemporary #47/48, p.38.

Unsigned, "Art," The New Yorker February 3, pp. 19-20.

Ken Johnson, "Dona Nelson, Art Reviews," The New York Times, January 31.


Paul Mattick, "Dona Nelson at Chiem and Read," Art in America, June, pp. 124-125.

Edith Newhall, "Subway Series," The New Yorker, January 15, p. 68.

Unsigned, "Art," The New Yorker, January 29, p. 18.

Robert Mahoney, "Dona Nelson; Stations of the Subway," Time Out New York, January 25 - February 1, p. 64.

Ann Landi, "Dona Nelson," ARTnews, April, p. 141.

Roberta Smith, "Dona Nelson," Art Reviews, The New York Times, February 16.

Roberta Smith, "Last Chance," The New York Times, February 23.


Gerard Brown, "Review/Art," Philadelphia Weekly, January 27, p. 34.


Ken Johnson, "Review/Art," The New York Times, May 1, p. E43.


Faye Hirsh, "Abstracting the familiar [The Work of Dona Nelson]," Art in America, February.

Saul Ostrow, "Essential Guestures," Johnson County Community College gallery of Art, Overland Park, KS. Exhibition catalogue.


Roberta Smith, "Dona Nelson: Paradox Lake," The New York Times, March 29, p.25.

Alfred MacAdam, "Dona Nelson," ARTnews, June, p. 149.

Saul Ostrow, "Painting All-Over Again," Palacio de Montemuzo, Spain. Exhibition catalgue.

Helene Posner, "Face to Face: Recent Abstract Painting," M.I.T. List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA. Exhibition catalgue.


Dean Sobel, "25 Americans Painting in the 90's" Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI. Exhibition catalgue.

James Auer, "Art Musuem Exhibit Embraces Pluralism," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 10.

Judith E. Stein, "Dona Nelson: Trying all the Flavors," ARTnews, October.


Linda Yablonsky, "Dona Nelson at Michael Klein Inc.," Artforum, January, p.92.

Faye Hirsh, "Dona Nelson at Michael Klein," Art in America, May, pp.112-113.

Jerry Saltz, "A Year in the Life: Tropic of Painting," Art in America, October, p.99.

Richard Whelan, "Interview with Dona Nelson," Bomb Magazine, No. XXXXVI, Winter, pp.34-39.


Charles Hagan, "Dona Nelson: New Paintings," The New York Times, October 15, p.C36.

Unsigned, "Art," The New Yorker, October 18.


Unsigned, "Art," The New Yorker, June 11, p.20.

Paul Mattick, "Dona Nelson," Arts Magazine, October, p.96.

Hearne Pardee, "In the Galleries," Art and Antiques, November, p.122.


Lisa Liebmann, "Dona Nelson's Time Pieces," Artforum, March, pp.90-93.

Calvin Reid, "Dona Nelson and Archie Rand at Scott Hansen," Art in America, November.


Elizabeth Murray, "Four Artists," Artists Space, New York. Exhibition brochure.

Michael Benson, Review of "Four Artists," The New York Times, November 22, p. C25.


Joseph Jacobs, "Faces Since the Fifties," Center Gallery, Bucknell University, Lewisberg, PA. Exhibition catalogue.

Klaus Kertess, "The Painterly Figure," The Parrish Art Musuem, Southampton, NY. Exhibition catalogue.


Roberta Smith, "Body Language," Hayden Gallery, M.I.T. Cambridge, MA. Exhibition catalogue.

Phyllis Plous and Michael Klein, "Figuration," University Art Museum, Santa Barbara, CA. Exhibition catalogue.

Grace Glueck, "Artists, Artists," ARTnews, November, p. 96.

Public and Corporate Collections

Committee for the Visual Arts/M.I.T. Collection, Cambridge, MA.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

State University of New York, Albany, NY.

William & Uytendale Scott Memorial Study Collection, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA.

Nordstern, Cologne, Germany.

Chase Manhattan Bank Collection, New York.

General Electric Corporation, Connecticut.

Progressive Corporation, Cleveland, OH.

Shearson Leaman/Paine Webber, New York.

General Mills, Minneapolis, MN.

Microsoft Corporation, Seattle, WA.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC.

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