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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Crow, Surf and Moon

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Crow, Surf and Moon


Morris Graves

born Fox Valley, Oregon, 1910; died Loleta, California, 2001

This war-time allegory is centered on the moon, referring to its powerful action upon the seas and its role as the source of light in the night. The moon establishes the very rhythms of life’s ebb and flow, yet by its inconstant nature it toys with living things—offering and then withholding its gifts of light, and whatever blessings were deposited with the incoming tide are ultimately washed away in the night’s surf. A crow looks on it intently, as though seeking guidance and salvation in a world soon to be engulfed by darkness and deluge.

Ink, transparent and opaque watercolor on Japaense paper, now mounted on rag board
25 1/2 x 30 3/4 in.
Gift of the Marshall and Helen Hatch Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: The artist; to [Willard Gallery, New York]; sold to [Herbert B. Palmer, Los Angeles, California]; sold to Amon Carter Musuem, Fort Worth, Texas, 1973-1976; deaccessioned and sold to [Herbert B. Palmer and Co., Beverly Hills, California], 1977; sold to Marshall 1918-2008) and Helen Hatch (d. 1996), Seattle, Washington, 1977-2008; pledged to Seattle Art Museum, 2005; by bequest to Seattle Art Museum, 2008
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryWalla Walla, Washington, Olin Gallery, Whitman College, George Tsutakawa and Morris Graves: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, Nov. 5 - 26, 1978. Text by Richard Jens Rasmussen. Cat. no. 3, n.p., reproduced.

Boston, Massachusetts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Northwest Visionaries: Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves, Leo Kenney, July 7 - Sept. 6, 1981. No cat. no.

Seattle, Washington, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Art in America: Washington Collection, Spiritualism in Northwest Art, July 22 - Aug. 29, 1982.

Osaka, Japan, National Museum of Art, Pacific Northwest Artists and Japan, Oct. 2 - Nov. 28, 1982. Text by Tadao Ogura. Cat. no. 29, p. 45, reproduced.

Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Morris Graves: Vision of the Inner Eye, Apr. 9 - May 29, 1983 (Greenville, South Carolina, Greenville County Museum of Art, July 1 - Aug. 28, 1983; New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Sept. 15- Nov. 27, 1983; Oakland, California, The Oakland Museum, Jan. 16 - Mar. 25, 1984; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Apr. 19 - July 8, 1984; San Diego, California, San Diego Museum of Art, July 24 - Sept. 4, 1984). Text by Ray Kass and Theodore Wolff. Cat. no. 43, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, Oct. 7, 1993 - June 26, 1994. No catalogue.

Los Angeles, California, Herbert Palmer Gallery, Celebrating 35 Years, 1998. No cat. no., reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007. No catalogue.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, June 19-Sept. 7, 2014. Text by Patricia Junker. No cat. no., p. 25, reproduced p. 26, pl. 12.
Published Referencescf. Graves, Morris. "Crow," in Ida E. Rubin, ed., The Drawings of Morris Graves: With Comments by the Artist (Boston; New York Graphic Society for the Drawing Society, Inc., 1974), pp. 52-53.

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