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Reuben Nakian

Biography to Display: 

1897Born College Point, New York

1986Died Stamford, Connecticut


1915Independent School of Art, New York, New York

1917-1920Art Students League, New York, New York


Studio Artist, New York, New York


Reuben Nakian's most well-known ceramic work consists of  series of two and three dimensional sculptures that explore erotic themes drawn from Greek and Roman mythology. This series is composed of clay slabs with the images incised into the wet surface with quickly drawn lines illustrating the narrative. Some of his ceramic work was thrown by other potters for him to draw on.

Nakian was primarily a bronze sculptor.

Nakian’s early friendships with expressionist artists, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning influenced his work.



Public Collections to Display: 

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe. Arizona

University of Arizona, Edward J. Gallagher Memorial Collection, Tucson, Arizona

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia

Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

The Canadian Museum, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada

Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, Massachusetts

Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Solomon P. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York

Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon, Portugal

Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii

Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, Houston, Texas

University of Houston, University Park, Houston, Texas

Irving Art Center, Irving, Texas

University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut


Bibliography to Display: 

Andersen, Wayne. American Sculpture in Process: 1930-1970. Boston, MA: New York Graphic Society (Little Brown & Co.), 1975.

Ashton, Dore. Modern American Sculpture. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1968.

Clark, Garth. American Ceramics 1876 to the Present. New York, NY: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1987.

Goldwater, Robert. What is Modern Sculpture?. New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 1969.

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics from Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1988.

Mocsanyi, Paul. The Artist’s Reality: An international Sculpture Exhibition. New York, NY: New School Art Center, 1964.

Seitz, William. Introduction. “Contemporary Sculpture.The Art Digest (ARTS Yearbook no.8 1965).

Speyer, A. James. Sculpture: A Generation of Innovation. Chicago, IL: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1967.

Tarbell, R. K., J. Marter and J. Wechsler.  Vanguard American Sculpture, 1913-1939. Rutgers, New Jersey: Rutgers University Art Gallery, 1979.

Tuchman, Maurice, ed. American Sculpture of the Sixties. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976.




Typical Marks
Nymph and Goat
Date: 1978
Form: Sculpture
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Slab-Built, Hand-Built
Surface Technique: Carved, Incised, Unglazed
Everson Museum of Art Collection, gift of Mrs. Paul Brunner, 1980
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, gift of Mrs. Paul Brunner, 1980
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified July 23, 2023.