Past Exhibitions

Nathan Oliveira

Exhibition Through July 27, 2003

Active in the Bay Area for more than four decades, Nathan Oliveira remains one of the region's most respected artists and a key figure in American art. His paintings, prints, and sculpture have attracted an international audience. Born in Oakland of Portuguese-American heritage, he studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts and taught for more than thirty years at Stanford University, where he is now professor emeritus. 

Oliveira is most associated with the Bay Area Figurative painters of the 1950s, including Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, and David Park. His work, like theirs, borrows from the bold gestural painting of Abstract Expressionism. His paintings and monotypes bear the mark of his brush in the tactile quality of the paint and the unique printed surfaces of his monotypes. In contrast to the sunny beaches and flower-filled settings of the Figurative artists, Oliveira's subjects tended toward the melancholy, as characterized by the single figure presented in a void. These figures represent an ongoing dialogue with the history of art and can best be understood in the context of Northern European Expressionism. His artistic heroes were Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, and Edvard Munch, whom he recognized for their insights into the human condition.

This major retrospective exhibition demonstrates Oliveira's passion for the human subject and his conviction regarding art's expressive power. Along with its accompanying catalogue, the exhibition is the most comprehensive assessment to date of Oliveira's career as artist and teacher.


Nathan Oliveira, Italian Sentinel, 1959; Oil on canvas, 60 5/8 x 48 inches, Museum purchase with additional funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Exhibition Credits

Nathan Oliveira was organized by San Jose Museum of Art and guest-curated by Peter Selz. The San Jose Museum of Art gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the exhibition and catalogue by the Oshman Family Foundation. The Museum also appreciates additional contributions provided by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund and McManis, Faulkner and Morgan.


The exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art was made possible by the generous support of Pam and Jim Muzzy, Jean and Tim Weiss, and Visionaries.