new-york

Nancy Graves

M. Knoedler Gallery

Nancy Graves is best known to me for her meticulous re-creations of camels and “prehistoric” animals. Whole rooms, like archeological sites, would be strewn with bones and skeletons. As sculpture opposing the then-reigning Minimalism, these could reclaim a certain “organic” structure, though they did so through the ancient traces of animals—an anthropologist’s view of the past. Such subject matter intensified the “primitive” aspect of Graves’ contribution to more anti-industrial post-Minimalism. The high art plugs were made quite clear: Pollock through Hesse and Smithson. It was an honest attempt to reintroduce a landscape of animal form into sculpture. (How prophetic these equinesque forms look today, now that there seems to be a whole school of horse artists.)

But Graves’ sculpture and her painting have been very different matters. The bones were definitely one thing, with many suggestive

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