Eclipse, 1987

Nancy Graves, American, 1939–1995
Eclipse, 1987
Steel, wood, bronze with polychrome patina and baked enamel
Princeton University Art Museum, Gift of Hans Mautner, Class of 1959

In Nancy Graves’s art, the formal vocabulary of abstraction collides with imagery drawn from the world of nature and scientific observation. In the early 1970s, in the wake of the Apollo missions, she transformed lunar maps prepared by NASA into her own abstract visual language in a series of paintings. The sculpture Eclipse returns to a cosmological subject in a more oblique, yet humorous way—the title is drawn from the cast iron object situated at the base, a vintage windmill weight in the shape of a crescent moon, on which the model name “Eclipse” is emblazoned in bold letters.

In this work, Graves juxtaposed and merged painting and sculpture, nature and the man-made, while bringing unexpected and poetic associations to the notion of an eclipse.


Allison Unruh, Associate Curator, Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, St. Louis