Robert Graham (1938 - 2008)

Biography

Robert Graham (August 19, 1938 – December 27, 2008) was a sculptor based in the state of California in the United States. His monumental bronzes commemorate the human figure and are featured in public places across America.

Within five years he had one-man exhibitions of his sculpture at important contemporary art galleries in Palo Alto, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Cologne, and Essen, Germany. He, along with Joey and Steven lived in London for a period before settling in Los Angeles in the early 1970s. His first solo exhibition in a museum was at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1972. Since then he has had dozens of one-man shows, including several at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Graham’s first major monumental commission was the ceremonial gateway for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, for the occasion of the 1984 Olympics. He also designed the commemorative silver dollar for the event. The gateway featured two bronze torsos, male and female, modeled on contestants in the games. The gateway was a major design element of an Olympiad noted for its lack of new construction. To the surprise of many, the nudity of the torsos became an issue in the media.

Graham used a range of materials and scales in his work. In the 1970s Graham created very small wax sculptures (circa 4″ – 10 cm), depicting sexual congress. His 1986 monument to the boxer Joe Louis is a 24′ bronze fist and forearm. He has created hundreds of nude figures and groupings in intermediate scales. In 1983 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1994.

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