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John Graham

Born: 1881, Kiev, Russia
Died: 1961, London, England

The Green Chair
1928

Oil on canvas
Image: 39 1/2 × 28 7/8in. (100.3 × 73.3cm)
Frame (c. 1900 European Alpine): 49 3/8 × 38 5/8 × 3 3/4in. (125.4 × 98.1cm, 3 3/4in.)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.60
Signed: Upper left: Graham Paris 1928
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

John Graham's 1928 canvas The Green Chair exemplifies his preoccupation, even at an early stage in his career, with formalist concerns. The painting reflects his belief that "art is always a discovery, revelation, penetrating emotional precisions, space, and color organization" (Graham, quoted in E. Green, Artist and Avatar, 1987). Completed during a sojourn in Paris, it is one in a series of monumental nudes. The highly modeled female figure strikes a pose in classic profile. Her form is abstracted and her face mask-like, a result of Graham's interest in and collection of African sculpture. Despite the painting's focus on the figure, the work's title does not mention the sitter; rather it encourages the viewer to interpret the painting formally. Eschewing overt meaning, Graham's stylized forms, abstracted and compressed but still reading as three-dimensional, are intended to elicit archetypal associations on a spiritual level. Graham continued to use the human figure throughout his artistic career as a point of departure, subsuming its importance, yet never fully dissolving its form, as would a younger generation of artists, including Graham's protégé Jackson Pollock (1912–1956).

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Provenance

The artist
Private collection
Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., New York, New York
Daniel J. Terra Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1990
Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1999

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Exhibition History

Exposition de peinture de John D. Graham, Galerie Zboroski, Paris, France (organizer). Venue: Galerie Zborowski, Paris, France, August 1–15, 1928 (as Femme sur la Chause Jaune). [exh. cat.]

Figures and Forms: Selections from the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, May 9–July 9, 2000.

On Process: Studio Themes, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, January 13–March 4, 2001.

(Re)Presenting Women, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, October 16, 2001–January 13, 2002.

Collection Cameo, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, July 2002.

Visages de l'Amérique: le portrait dans la collection de la Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1770–1940 (Faces of America: Portraits from the Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, 1770–1940), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–October 31, 2004. [exh. cat.]

Twarze Ameryki: Portrety z kolekcji Terra Foundation for American Art, 1770–1940 (Faces of America: Portraits from the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art, 1770–1940), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France and Miedzynarodowe Centrum Kultury (International Cultural Center), Crakow, Poland (organizers). Venue: International Cultural Center, Crakow, Poland, February 15–May 7, 2006. [exh. cat.]

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Published References

Exposition de Peinture de John D. Graham. (exh. cat., Galerie Zborowski). Paris, France: Galerie Zborowski, 1928. Text cat. no. 2 (checklist, as Femme sur la Chaise Jaune).

Waldemar, George. John D. Graham. Paris, France: Editions "Le Triangle," 1929. Ill. p. 51 (black & white, as La Chaise Jaune).

Wainwright, Lisa. The Green Chair, John D. Graham. Collection Cameo sheet, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, July 2002. Ill. (color).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. An American Point of View: The Daniel J. Terra Collection. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 176, 196; ill. pp. 13 (color), 177 (color), 196 (black & white).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. Un regard transatlantique. La collection d'art américain de Daniel J. Terra. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 176, 196; ill. pp. 13 (color), 177 (color), 196 (black & white).

Kennedy, Elizabeth and Sophie Lévy. Faces of America: Portraits of the Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, 1770–1940. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2004. Text pp. 18, 32 (checklist); ill. p. 59 (color).

Kennedy, Elizabeth and Sophie Lévy. Visages de l'Amérique: le portrait dans la collection de la Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1770–1940. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2004. Text pp. 18, 32 (checklist); ill. p. 59 (color).

Lévy, Sophie, et al. Twarze Ameryki: Portrety z kolekcji Terra Foundation for American Art, 1770–1940 (Faces of America: Portraits from the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art, 1770–1940). (exh. cat., International Cultural Center). Cracow, Poland: International Cultural Center, 2006. Text pp. 24–25, 116; ill. front cover (color), p. 117 (color).

Longwell, Alicia G. “John Graham and the Quest for American Art in the 1920s and 1930s.” PhD diss., City University of New York, 2007. Text pp. 26, 77, 82 (as Femme sur la Chaise Jaune); Ill. p. 239, fig. 1.2.

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