Edited by Vicki Halper and Lawrence Fong
UW Press -320 pp, 44 illus. – $45
Morris Graves was a major American painter with roots in the Pacific Northwest. Morris Graves: Selected Letters draws on a vast cache of his unpublished correspondence, dating from his teenage years until his death in 2001. Few visual artists of any era have left such a rich and wide-ranging collection of letters, which makes this body of work an unusual and valuable document in American art.
Written to many correspondents over long periods of time, the letters include the artist’s reflections on his art, the art world, philosophy (Zen Buddhism and Vedanta in particular), architecture (Graves designed his homes and gardens), and relationships with family, friends, and lovers. Among the correspondents are Graves’ family; his art dealer; and other notable artists, writers, and scholars. Graves himself preserved most of the letters, or copies of them, and put no restrictions on their use.