David Bates

February 9, 2014 - May 11, 2014

In the spring of 2014, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presented a joint exhibition of the work of artist David Bates. A retrospective of Bates’s work, the exhibition was simultaneously installed at both locations, with an emphasis on sculpture and works on paper at the Nasher and painting in Fort Worth. The first collaboration between the two museums, the exhibition was organized by Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher, and Dr. Marla Price, director of the Modern.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Bates has combined exquisite technique with a deep understanding of modernist traditions, resulting in a body of work that is at once sophisticated, soulful, and accessible. From his lush early paintings of the Arkansas nature conservancy Grassy Lake and the Texas Gulf Coast, to his reliefs, sculptures, and assemblages created in a variety of materials, to his most recent paintings depicting survivors of Hurricane Katrina, self-portraits and a return to still life, the exhibition provided an in-depth look at the work of a unique and significant American artist. This exhibition included approximately 45 paintings on view in Fort Worth, and 45 sculptures and 20 related paintings and drawings on view in Dallas. 


Long hailed as an extraordinary painter, Bates’s achievements in sculpture have been equally significant, despite receiving less attention. Carved, assembled, modeled, or cast, painted or patinated, Bates’s sculpture ranges from rough-hewn to smoothly formed, powerfully muscular to fragile and dainty.


Following in the footsteps of the great painter-sculptors Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Bates’s work in sculpture expanded his expressive range and had a profound impact on his work in other media. In addition to examining his development as a sculptor, the exhibition at the Nasher also showcased the effect his work in three dimensions had on his studio practice, including his paintings and drawings.


Bates was born in 1952 in Dallas, Texas, where he lives and works today. He studied art at Southern Methodist University and participated in the Independent Study Program sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where he experimented with a wide range of styles. He has been the focus of many solo museum and gallery exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions across the United States. His work is prominently collected by museums and individuals including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Nasher Sculpture Center.