Nancy Graves

"In both the Camel and fossil sculptures I soon found my own way of working, which, while it departed from taxidermy, still alluded to it. I envisioned the group of camels as a study of motion, more specifically, motion arrested. Muybridge was certainly an influence, as were Oldenburg’s soft forms. After making numerous studies I began to create the camel forms out of whatever materials were available to me in Florence."

- Nancy Graves : Excavations in Print A Catalogue raisonné (p. 37-38), 1992

Nancy Graves was a sculptor, painter, printmaker and filmmaker who is perhaps best known for her highly realist camels and the unusual choice of materials for her sculptures. With the camels, she was challenged by the construction of both the inside and the outside of these objects. Throughout her career Graves alternated between painting and sculpture.

Initially Graves studied English literature at Vassar College and later she completed her Bachelors and Master of Fine Arts at Yale University. She won a Fullbright Grant to study painting in Paris. In 1965 she moved to Florence, Italy where she became interested in the wax models of Clemente Susini, an 18th century anatomist. It was then, she began work on sculpture and some large-scale installation pieces. In 1969, she was honoured to be the first woman to have a solo retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1970, she made the first of five films. In her later works, the forms are inspired and even cast from organic and man made forms that are brightly coloured and dynamic.

© Steven Sloman Photographer