Artist biography

Morris Graves born 1910

American painter and watercolourist preoccupied with the mystery of nature and inner visions; his work is related to oriental art and Zen Buddhism. Born in Fox Valley, Oregon. While working as a sailor 1928-31, made his first trips to Japan and the Orient. Received his first instruction in painting at high school in Beaumont, Texas 1932, then returned to the area near Seattle where his parents had settled. Early oils in heavy paint of birds, animals, fir-trees, horses, cows. First one-man exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum 1936. Worked for the WPA Federal Art Project 1936-9. Began in 1939 to work in tempera and wax, and also in gouache and watercolour on thin Chinese paper, and met Mark Tobey, whose 'white writing' he adapted. 1940-7 lived on an island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, where he painted the 'Inner Eye' series, 'Old Pine Top' series, etc. From 1946 travelled extensively to Honolulu, Europe, Mexico, Japan, India, Africa. Lived at Edmonds, near Seattle, and for several years in County Cork, Ireland, then in 1964 bought his present home near Loleta, in northern California.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.333