Nancy Graves was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1939. She graduated from Vassar College in 1961 and earned an MFA from Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture in 1964.
Graves came to prominence with her groundbreaking series of camels: life-like constructions of wood, burlap, hair, and wax, that resembled the animals found in natural history displays. In 1969, she became the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
She was also an avant-garde filmmaker and a world traveler who incorporated elements of classical antiquity, as well as Ancient Egyptian, African, Japanese, Korean, and Indian art into her work.
Nancy Graves’s sculpture, paintings, works on paper and prints may be found in the collections of numerous museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Graves died of cancer in 1995 in New York.