Drawing upon diverse influences, including natural history, cartography, non-Western art, and modernist sculpture, Graves produced a dynamic body of work encompassing many mediums. After studying at Vassar College and Yale University, Graves traveled through North Africa and the Near East, arriving at the subject for her break-through works, realistic sculptures of life-size Bactrian camels. First shown at New York's Graham Gallery in 1968, these pieces quickly established Graves's reputation. By the mid-1970s, she began experimenting with welding as a technique, utilizing a large repertoire of cast or fabricated forms to make sculptures intuitively, without preparatory drawings. While working within a tradition that includes Pablo Picasso and David Smith, Grave's playful application of color disrupts expectations and undermines the machismo sometimes associated with welded sculpture. "Hay Fervor" comes from a series of works that incorporate pieces of farm machinery. Graves creates visual tensions through the juxtaposition of large, threatening mechanical forms with small, innocuous objects cast from life, such as leaves and pretzels. The vivid colors add to these striking contrasts, transforming everyday objects into abstract shapes. She also explores the sculptural issue of balance, establishing physical relationships that accentuate the humor of this vibrant piece. The Academy purchased the work in 1987, when Graves accepted the Award of American Art from the Pennsylvania Academy.
Date of Birth
Bronze and steel with polychrome patina, baked enamel, and polyurethane paint
95 3/4 x 87 x 38 1/4 in. (243.205 x 220.98 x 97.155 cm.)
Purchased with funds provided by Dr. Luther W. Brady, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel W. Dietrich II, Mrs. Robert English, Mr. and Mrs. Henry F. Harris, Mr. and Mrs. J. Welles Henderson, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard I. Korman, Mr. Harvey S. Shipley Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Allen J. Model, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Resnick, Mr. and Mrs. George M. Ross, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley C. Tuttleman, and the Women's Art Committee
© Nancy Graves Foundation /Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY