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    Description

    MORRIS GRAVES (American, 1910-2001)
    Bird, No. 845, 1939
    Gouache on paper
    12-1/2 x 16-1/8 inches (31.8 x 41.0 cm)
    Signed in pencil lower right: M Graves
    Inscribed and dated along top edge verso: Bird drawing #845 1939 $45

    PROPERTY FROM THE KING COLLECTION, TEXAS

    PROVENANCE:
    Willard Gallery, New York;
    Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, April 25, 1980, lot 279;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    A Surrealist and mystic by nature, Morris Graves is perhaps the most enigmatic of the Northwest School's "big four," which also included Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, and Mark Tobey. Graves is known for his incorporation of Eastern spirituality and symbolism into his artwork, often using images of birds or the "inner eye" to communicate his own transcendental philosophy. Though he exhibited widely during his time, he was somewhat of a recluse, preferring the solitude of his island home to the hustle and bustle of urban Seattle.

    The most profound influence on Graves' career was three consecutive trips that he took to the Far East between 1928 and 1930. The Eastern spirituality to which he was exposed on these voyages soon permeated his entire oeuvre, particularly shaping his depiction of birds and other animals. For Graves, birds represented his feelings of Zen solitude and a connection with the universe around him.

    In 1939, Marian Willard, of Willard Gallery in New York, visited Seattle and met Graves. Willard purchased two paintings without delay, and tried to induce him to send additional works to her gallery. After much prompting, Graves finally relented and from that point on was represented by Willard Gallery. Bird, No. 845, one of Graves' earliest bird depictions, was one of the first of these paintings exhibited at Willard Gallery.

    In his book on the artist, Ray Kass notes, "The temperas and gouaches that Graves began to produce in 1939 made use of imposing animal subjects...The birds and serpents in the paintings of these years become expressions of Grave's spirit, and their slightest gestures reveal powerful yet subtle emotion" (Morris Graves: Vision of the Inner Eye, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1988, n.p.).

    Graves rose to prominence in 1942 when Dorothy C. Miller, curator for New York's Museum of Contemporary Art, included the artist in a show entitled Americans 1942: 18 Artists from 9 States. Over the ensuing years of his career, Graves exhibited at prestigious museums throughout the United States, including the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Phillips Collection in Washington.



    Condition Report*:  Sheet appears to be adhered to board mount along reverse sheet edges; light overall paper discoloration; several small spots of surface soiling, most notably along the upper left sheet edge; sheet appears to be slightly undulating around image, possibly associated with medium(s) used; lightly bumped sheet edges and corners; scattered light handling creases. Framed Dimensions 24 X 27.25 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    17th Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,543

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