This visually stunning book will be a revelation to admirers of Northwest visionary artist Morris Graves (b. 1910) who know him chiefly through his profoundly original, metaphysically charged paintings of chalices, birds, snakes, and other small creatures. Graves' national reputation began with the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition "Americans 1942 - 18 Artists from 9 States." Throughout his long career as one of America's most highly regarded painters of the transcendental, Graves has been less well known for his later flower paintings, represented here in more than fifty full-page color plates encompassing selected works from 1938 through 1992. A number of these paintings first captured public attention in 1983-84, during the course of a retrospective, "Morris Graves, Vision of the Inner Eye," organized by the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., which traveled to six major American museums. In the past decade, Graves' flower paintings have continued to command increasing critical and public acclaim.
In the view of noted art critic Theodore F. Wolff, whose superb analysis informs this presentation, Graves has created several dozen of the finest American flower paintings of the century. A product of Graves' later years, these serene and radiantly beautiful paintings show distinct compositional parallels with a significant number of his early symbolic and metaphoric works. At the same time, they incorporate the dramatic shift in emphasis that took place in his art during the 1970s, when flowers and light began to embody his evolving sense of what color could be and could do. To a very real degree, notes Wolff, the flower paintings are Graves' culminating work, epitomizing and summarizing his lifelong attempts to translate the spiritually ineffable into pictorial form.