Deborah Butterfield b. 1949


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Deborah Butterfield was born on the same day as the 75th Kentucky Derby, which is telling of her future as she became known for her horse sculptures from the 1980s. Butterfield received her B.A. and M.F.A. from the University of California, Davis, where she met her artist husband John Buck, who also specializes in sculpture.


The creation of Butterfield's horse sculptures is a multi-step process. Her pieces start out as wooden planks held together by wire, and then she constructs the second versions out of bronze and scrap metal from photographs. She forms the horses from all angles and only works in the winters, which is why it may take 3-5 years for her to complete one piece.

Art critic Grace Glueck of the The New York Times stated, "By now Deborah Butterfield's skeletal horses, fashioned of found wood, metal and other detritus, are familiar to almost a generation of gallery-goers. Yet they still have a freshness, which comes from the artist's regard for them as individuals. In fact, training, riding and bonding with horses, as she does at her Montana ranch, she thinks of them as personifications of herself...they seem to express the very spirit of equine existence."


 Butterfield's work is featured in the permanent collections of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Yellowstone Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the MCA in Chicago, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Chrysler Museum in Virginia and the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Related Categories: Use of Found Objects, Decay/Deterioration, Use of Organic Material, Sculpture, Contemporary Re-creations, United States, Wood, California Art, Nature, Mortality.