History And Context


Duncan Phillips was first exposed to the art of Morris Graves in 1942 when he visited an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Response to the paintings by the unknown artist from Seattle was overwhelmingly positive, and Phillips echoed the views of many art critics: “Graves was the sensation of the show. When we discovered Graves, and he became a national celebrity, it was the immediate impact of an original genius.”

Surf and Bird reflects Graves’s fascination with birds and illustrates the variety of means at his disposal for depicting them. According to Graves, the bird is often a symbol of solitude, as strikingly conveyed in his paintings of single birds surrounded by the sea or by darkness. The birds almost appear human in their expression of emotion. Duncan Phillips recognized this quality, observing, “Graves is seeking… to symbolize the fate of man through the fate of birds.”

More Works by Morris Graves In the Collection


Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists
Morris Graves
1962/completed 1999
Chalice
Morris Graves
1941
In the Night
Morris Graves
ca. 1943

Sanderlings
Morris Graves
ca. 1943
Surf and Bird
Morris Graves
ca. 1940
Winter Flower
Morris Graves
1954

Wounded Gull
Morris Graves
1943
Young Gander Ready for Flight
Morris Graves
1952
Young Pine Forest in Bloom
Morris Graves
1947