Born 1928, Oakland, California; Died 2010, Stanford, California.
Nathan Oliveira was a leading member of the second generation of the Bay Area figurative painters. He is best known for his brilliantly colored figurative and landscape paintings as well as intricate bronze sculptures with colorful patinas. Oliveira achieved national prominence fusing Abstract Expressionism and figuration in psychologically charged canvases that explored human isolation and alienation. In 1959, he was the youngest painter included in the important exhibition New Images of Man at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which also featured works by Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Richard Diebenkorn, and Jackson Pollack. Overnight, Oliveira found wide acclaim for his nervous human images, built up with thick layers of scuffed and scratched paint.
Nathan Oliveira employed a bravura, brushy style of paint application. His abstracted figures and landscapes, however, reflected an affinity with the darker vision of European artists like Oskar Kokoschka and Edvard Munch or more nearly contemporary artists like Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon, who shared his sense of human conflict and existential angst. Particularly influential was the German painter Max Beckmann, with whom he studied briefly.
Nathan Oliveira had solo exhibitions in major museums all over the world. His paintings are held in the collections of many distinguished institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Tate Modern, London, among others.
Scottsdale Center for the Arts, “A Museum in the Making: The Stephane Janssen Collection of Contemporary European and American Art,” 1991.
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, 1995.
Reviewing the exhibition in the Oklahoman, art critic John Brandenbug observed that “Nathan Oliveira supplies a masterful, confrontational, larger-than-life image of the artist as a masked shaman, holding a brush that may be dripping blood rather than paint, with a palette seeming to grow out of his arm, in ‘Painter I’.”