Nancy Graves drawing on 'Ngetal' proof at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1977
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Kenneth Tyler

Nancy Graves was born in Massachusetts in 1940, graduating with an MFA from Yale University in 1964. Equally happy to work in print, paint or sculpture, much of Graves’s work was concerned with the natural world. She worked with Kenneth Tyler at Tyler Graphics in 1977 and 1981, completing several hand-coloured multimedia prints and a series of monoprints. The National Gallery holds a selection of her hand-coloured multimedia prints from 1977, all of which are titled according to the early medieval alphabet known as Ogham.

Graves’s use of this alphabet, which is thought to have been based on the principle of assigning each letter the name of a tree, reflects her interest in nature. The prints, which are reminiscent of the ancient stone carvings from which the alphabet was recovered, use a naive style achieved through etching into copper plates.
Emilie Owens

Further reading


Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, United States of America

Receives Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Studies at School of Art and Architecture, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; receives Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1962, Masters of Fine Arts in 1964

Receives Fulbright-Hayes Grant in painting to study in Paris, France; solo exhibition, at Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Marriage to Richard Serra

Lives and works in Florence, Italy; completes first camel sculpture

Moves to New York; teaches for two years at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey

Solo exhibition, at Graham Gallery, New York City, New York

Solo exhibition, Nancy Graves: camels, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Completes first of five films, working with Linda Leeds as adviser and editor; included in Annual exhibition of contemporary American sculpture, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Solo exhibition, Projects: Nancy Graves, at Museum of Modern Art, New York City; teaches at San Francisco Art Institute; receives Vassar College Fellowship

Completes screenprints based on geologic maps of the moon at Landfall Press, Chicago

Included in exhibition, Drawings 1963–73, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City

Receives Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture; included in travelling exhibition, American 1976, originating at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Completes hand-coloured prints at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York; begins collaboration with Dick Polich at Tallix Foundry, Peekskill, New York; included in Dokumenta 6, Kassel, West Germany

Included in travelling exhibition, American paintings of the 1970s, originating at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; travelling to India, Nepal and Kashmir

Artist-in-residence, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rome, Italy; completes intaglio prints at 2RC Editrice, Rome, Italy

Travelling exhibition, Nancy Graves: a survey 1969–1980, originating at Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; included in exhibitions, Venice biennale, Italy; Drawings: the pluralistic decade, organised by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Completes a series of 31 monoprints at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York

Included in travelling exhibition, American accents, originating at Gallery, Stratford Gallery, Ontario, Canada; included in exhibition, The American artist as printmaker: the 23rd annual print exhibition, Brooklyn Museum, New York City; completes enamelled sculptures at Tallix Foundry, Beacon, New York

Included in exhibition, Prints from Tyler Graphics, at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; included in travelling exhibition, Aspects of American art of the future, organised by Ludwig Collection, New Gallery, Aachen, Germany

Included in exhibition, Ken Tyler: printer extraordinary, at Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia (now National Gallery of Australia); receives Yale Arts Award for distinguished achievement; designs sets for Trisha Brown’s Lateral pass, which receives a New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award in 1986

Travelling exhibition, Nancy Graves: painting, sculpture, drawing 1980–85, originating at Vassar College Art Gallery; included in exhibitions, Public and private: American print today, Brooklyn Museum, New York City; Natural forms and forces: Abstract images of American sculpture, List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

Travelling exhibition, Nancy Graves: a sculpture retrospective, organised by the Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas; included in exhibition, A graphic muse: prints by contemporary American women, organised by Mt Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts

Included in exhibition, Vital signs: organic abstraction from the permanent collection,Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, New York

Included in exhibition, Ken Tyler: 25 glorious years, Heland Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden; First impressions: early prints by forty-six contemporary artists, originating at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; receives honorary degree from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York

Becomes member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York

Completes benefit print for the Mitterand Foundation, Paris, printed by Aldo Crommelynck

Included in travelling exhibition, Innovation in collaborative printmaking: Kenneth Tyler 1963–1992, originating at Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan; receives honorary doctorate from University of Maryland, Baltimore and Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Travelling exhibition, Nancy Graves: recent works, originating at Fine Arts Gallery, University of Maryland

Included in exhibition, Beyond print: masterworks from the Ken Tyler collection,Dr Earl Lu Gallery, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore

Included in exhibition, Ken Tyler: printmaker emeritus, Southern Graphics Council Conference, Ohio University, Athens

Nancy Graves died in New York

Barbara Delano © Tyler Graphics Ltd., revised Kate Buckingham, 2006
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017