Nathan Oliveira's (1928--2010) passion for continuing an inner-directed artistic tradition attached to the human subject persisted throughout his more than forty years as a painter and master printmaker. His art represents an ongoing dialogue with artists from Rembrandt to Goya to Munch, Beckmann, Giacometti, and de Kooning--whom he recognized for their insights into the human condition. The human touch, so often absent in contemporary work, is distinct in Oliveira's art. His paintings and monotypes bear the mark of his brush in the tactile quality of the paint and the unique printed surfaces of his monotypes. He lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was professor emeritus of art at Stanford University, Oliveira is widely regarded as a key figure in American art, and his paintings, monoprints, drawings, watercolors, and sculpture have attracted an international audience. This book is the most comprehensive study to date of Oliveira's career as artist and teacher. Generously illustrated with 172 images, more than 100 in color, and including valuable, previously unpublished biographical and bibliographical information, Nathan Oliveira accompanied the major traveling exhibition of the same name.
Peter Selz's authoritative text weaves key moments in Oliveira's professional life together with compelling readings of the paintings themselves. Selz, who curated the exhibition, succeeds brilliantly in establishing a sense of where Oliveira came from, what inspired him, and how he thought of himself as an artist. Selz discusses Oliveira's beginnings as the son of Portuguese immigrants, his early exposure to Bay Area artists, and his formative experience of studying with Max Beckmann. Selz also traces the artist's affinity to his older contemporaries, his search for an expressive relationship between form and space that found resonance in presentation of the single figure, and the exhibitions and collaborations that shaped his career.
Susan Landauer's introduction provides an overview of the artist's work, while Joann Moser considers Oliveira's prints and drawings. Gary Carson's chronology, bibliography, and list of Oliveira's solo exhibitions complete this landmark publication, which fills an important gap in bringing Oliveira's powerful paintings and prints to the attention of a much larger public.
Daniel T. Keegan
Between the Notes: The Art of Nathan Oliveira
Traditions through Time: A Consideration of Oliveira's Prints
List of Illustrations
Peter Selz is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum and former Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Among his books are Art of Engagement: Visual Politics in California and Beyond (UC Press); German Expressionist Painting (UC Press); St. Francis; Art in Our Times; Beyond the Mainstream; and, with Kristine Stiles, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art (UC Press, 1996; revised edition, 2010). Susan Landauer is Katie and Drew Gibson Chief Curator at the San Jose Museum of Art in San Jose, California. Among her books are The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism (California, 1996) and Elmer Bischoff: The Ethics of Paint (California, 2001). Joann Moser is Senior Curator at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and author of Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America (1997).
"Nathan Oliveira casts a serious eye and gives a balanced account both of the California milieu in which Oliveira was formed and the artist himself. It is an authentic contribution to art history and a much-needed exploration of the rich culture of California art."—Dore Ashton, Professor of Art History, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
"Peter Selz and Joann Moser have produced an important study of the career and work of Oliveira, a stubbornly individual artist who, heedless of the clamor of the ideologies and the lure of the market, has resolutely gone his own way, these past fifty years, as painter, printmaker, and sculptor."—Lorenz Eitner, Osgood Hooker Professor of Fine Arts, Emeritus, Stanford University
"Peter Selz, the expert art historian, has written a well-researched and passionate study of the painter and printmaker Nathan Oliveira. This fine book, illustrated by more than 200 examples of the artist's innovative work, confirms Oliveira's place in the front rank of American artists."—James Schevill, Poet and author of The American Fantasies
"Nathan Oliveira is one of the leading figures of his generation as a painter, printmaker, and re-discoverer of monotype, and a comprehensive gathering and discussion of his work has been needed for some time. Peter Selz has brought forth just the book that was needed—touching on formative influences, friendships and teaching stints, throughout his career, and the parallel surges and fallow periods in all media of his work. The remarkable momentum of the artist’s career in printmaking and monotype is also traced separately by Joann Moser."—Gerald Nordland, author of Richard Diebenkorn