Robert Graham:  Body of Work
November 14, 2007 – February 9, 2008

USC Fisher Gallery
823 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90089-0292
Contact: Lisa Merighi
(213) 740-4561, fax (213) 740-7676
Web site,
Gallery hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm

Robert Graham, Studio Installation of small silver casts, summer 2006
Robert Graham Studio, Venice, CA
Photo credit:  Ari Michelson for Robert Graham Studio


The exhibition Robert Graham: Body of Work reveals a new phase in Robert Graham's exploration of the female figure in drawings, photographs, videos, and sculpture.

Los Angeles—Robert  Graham: Body of Work features the latest creations of Los Angeles-based artist Robert Graham. The exhibition runs from November 14, 2007 through February 9, 2008 at the University of Southern California’s Fisher Gallery in Los Angeles. Robert  Graham: Body of Work is curated by guest curator Peggy Fogelman.
Internationally renowned, Los Angeles-based artist Robert Graham has explored the female figure in drawings, photographs, videos, and, especially, sculpture since the beginning of his career. The USC Fisher Gallery exhibition Body of Work reveals, for the first time in a museum context, a new phase in this exploration. Graham’s interest in capturing movement and animating individual presence has been apparent in even his most restfully posed sculptural nudes. Conversely, dynamic compositions inspired by dance manifest a deep and abiding concern for anatomical and facial detail that aligns them with still portraiture. In his new works, Graham pushes the depiction of movement to its most abstract form, distilling morphology to its essence and allowing the energy and idiosyncrasy of pose to convey individualism. These nudes, like virtuosic three-dimensional sketches, simultaneously embody the vigorous gesture of both the sculptor and his model.

Graham’s sculptural work began with small wax figures encased in Plexiglas environments suggestive of 1960s California beach culture. At the time, unschooled in figure drawing or human anatomy, Graham worked from photographs and pop imagery culled from magazines and mass media. As he worked directly with live models through the 1970s, Graham’s ability to both observe and record anatomical detail and individualized form increased to the level of exceptional technical virtuosity. The evolution of Graham’s approach is inextricably linked to his experience with the model in his studio. In Graham’s most recent sculptures the abstracted, torqued figures declare the speed of movement and the artistic energy needed to capture it. Each appendage records not an established pose, but the transition from one taut, muscular thrust to the next, so that movement evolves within the figure as if in slow motion video.

The stylistic transitions that map Graham’s career are inextricably bound to experiments in materials and technique. Graham began producing his statues in bronze in the early 1970s. Traditional lost wax bronze casting requires an intermediary step between the original clay sketch and the final sculpture, via the taking of molds and the execution of a wax casting model that is destroyed in the process. As smaller models are enlarged to monumental proportions, the transfer and translation of the artist’s original gestures and mark-making in the clay further distance product from prototype. For his newest work, Graham developed a method of building resin sculptures that employs innovative technologies gleaned from industrial and medical engineering. The resulting statues, alternately translucent and glowing like glass paste, or opaque and crystallized like marble, preserve with an unprecedented exactitude the immediacy of the artist’s gesture and the personality of his fingerpr

About the artist
Robert Graham was born in Mexico City in 1938 and studied at San Jose State College, B.A. (1961-1963) and the San Francisco Art Institute, M.F.A. (1963-1964.) Since 1964, his work has been the subject of over eighty solo exhibitions and two retrospective exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico. His work is part of many national and international museum collections.

His civic monuments include:
1984:    “Olympic Gateway” to commemorate the XXIIIrd Olympiad in Los    Angeles, California
1986:    “Monument to Joe Louis” in Detroit, Michigan
1997:    “Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington D.C.  First Inaugural and Social Programs, and the  “Prologue” to the FDR Memorial in 2001
1997:    “Duke Ellington Memorial” in New York City’s Central Park
1999:    “Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker Memorial” in Kansas City, Missouri
2002:    “The Great Bronze Doors” for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California
Public installations of sculptures in Los Angeles include the “Dance Door” at the Music Center Plaza; “Fountain Figures I-IV” at the Wells Fargo Plaza; and “Source Figure” at the First Interstate World Tower in downtown; “Dance Columns I and II” at the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden and Doumani Sculpture Garden at Rolfe Hall, both at University of California at Los Angeles; “Retrospective Column” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “Torso” on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Robert Graham designed the “National Medal of Arts,” presented by the President of the United States; “The Spirit of Liberty Award” presented by the People for the American Way; and “The California Governors’ Award for the Arts.”

In 1993, Robert Graham received the ACLU Freedom of Speech Award and the California Governor’s Award for his outstanding contribution to the Arts.  In 2003, he received the award of the Commander of Merit of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

He works and lives in Venice, California
Related Events
Book Presentation: Marta Palau. Naualli
November 15, 2007 (6:30 PM - 8:00 PM)

Mexican artist Marta Palau presents her retrospective book titled Marta Palau. Naualli. Panel includes Marta Palau, Selma Holo, Director, USC Fisher Gallery, Teresa Vicencio, Director, CECUT and Alfredo Alvarez, Director, UNAM-LA.  A reception will follow.  
What Can You Do With Greensleeves II: A Baroque Jam Session  
November 17, 2007 (2:00 PM – 4:00 PM)
Come join professional and student musicians from the Thornton School of Music’s Early Music Program and the Los Angeles community as they perform in a Baroque improvisational style that resembles today's jam session.

Women’s Lives and Loves: A Musical Exploration
November 27, 2007 (7:30 PM - 9:00 PM)
Victoria Kirsch and mezzo-soprano Diana Tash focus on song and opera written by and about women. A Vision and Voices event.
The Late Style: Implications for the Artist and the Architect
December 6, 2007 (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
USC Andrus Gerontology Center -- Leonard Davis Auditorium
Robert Graham, Frank O. Gehry, Ed Moses and Tony Berlant will discuss what the meaning of the idea of a “later style” has for their work. Peggy Fogelman, Director of Education and Interpretation, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, will moderate.
Holiday Open House
December 13, 2007 (12:00 PM – 1:00 PM)
Join colleagues and friends for a special viewing of the exhibition, live music, and refreshments.
Beethoven String Quartet. Opus 18, no. 1
January 18, 2008 ((12:00 PM – 1:00 PM)
Enjoy a free performance by the Thornton School of Music undergraduate String Quartet with Midori Goto.
Lawn Party
January 24, 2008 (7:00 PM – 8:30 PM)
USC Fisher Gallery’s extravaganza for all students returns with live music, art making, performance, and more.
Cultures from Around the World: A Dance Performance
February 6, 2008 (1:30 PM – 2:30 PM)
Student dancers from 32nd Street/USC Performance Art Magnet will perform a piece inspired by Robert Graham’s dancer sculptures.

Events take place at USC Fisher Gallery, unless otherwise noted.  
Admission to events is free.  RSVP to (213) 740-5537 or

About USC Fisher Gallery

Fisher Gallery is the accredited art museum of the University of Southern California. Since its opening in 1939, Fisher Gallery has grown significantly in stature and prominence as the museum of USC. In addition to showing the permanent collection, the Gallery presents traveling exhibitions and organizes its own successful exhibitions, offering the campus and community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area, a wide variety of changing exhibitions. Fisher Gallery offers programming to support its exhibitions such as lectures, artist’s talks, film screening, concerts, and poetry readings.

General Information
For general information, press information, images, or to schedule an interview, call (213) 740-5537. Press images can be downloaded at

Museum Hours and Admission
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm; closed Sunday and Monday. Closed on November 22 – November 24, 2007 and December 22 – January 1, 2008.

Admission to the exhibition and all related events are free. Call (213) 740-4561 or visit for more information.

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