Deborah Butterfield (American, born May 7, 1949) is a renowned sculptor, known for sculpting horses from materials such as wood and metal. Butterfield was born in San Diego, CA, on the same day as the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby, a fact that she claims to be the source of inspiration for her tendency to sculpt horses. Manuel Neri, a artist renowned for sculpting the female form, mentored Butterfield, another factor she has cited in steering her away from depicting women in her work.

Examples of Butterfield's works include Lalapa (2011), Palomino (1981), and Blanket Saddle (1972). Butterfield attended San Diego State College, in San Diego, CA, from 1966 to 1968, and also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, in Skowhegan, ME, in 1972. Butterfield received her Bachelor's degree and an MFA from the University of California, Davis, in 1971 and 1973, respectively. She holds an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT (1998), and another from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT (1997).

Butterfield only works during winter, and, hence, each of her works takes some time to finish, usually in the range of three to five years. Butterfield's work exudes an abstract narrative elegance that, together with her colorful forms, have drawn comparisons to John Chamberlain. Butterfield has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, an American Academy of Achievement Award, and a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

Butterfield has participated in a number of exhibitions including those held at the Sacramento Valley at San Francisco State College in San Francisco, CA, in 1972; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1981; and the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA, in 2008. Her public collections are housed in different places, including Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI; Yale University in New Haven, CT; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY. Deborah Butterfield is represented by Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, IL, the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA, and La Louver in Los Angeles, CA.

Butterfield lives and works in a studio in Hawaii and a ranch in Bozeman, MT.

Timeline

1949
Born May 7, in San Diego, CA
1966–1968
San Diego State College, San Diego, CA
1970–1972
BFA, University of California, Davis, CA
1972
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, Scholarship
1972
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, Purchase Award for Sculpture and Student Jury Award for Sculpture
1973
MFA, University of California, Davis, CA
1977
National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship
1980
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship
1980
National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship
1992
UC Davis and Cal Aggie Alumni Association, Davis, California, Citation for Excellence Award
1993
American Academy of Achievement - Golden Plate Award
1997
Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana; Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
1998
Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana; Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts
Lives and works in Bozeman, Montana and Hawaii

Exhibitions

2012
New Sculptures, LA Louver, Venice, CA (solo)
2012
Essence: The Horses of Deborah Butterfield, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Pak (solo)
2011
Greg Kucera Gallery
2010
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ (solo)
2008
The Horse, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
2008
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA
2007
Deborah Butterfield: Horses, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV (solo)
2007
Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA (solo)
2006
LA Louver, Venice, CA (solo)
2006
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA (solo)
2006
Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN (solo)
2006
Tucson Museum of Art, AZ (solo)
2005
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA
2005
Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN
2005
Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL
2005
Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, FL (solo)
2004
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA
2004
The Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI
2004
Roberta Lieberman: A Sharp Eye: An Art Dealer’s 40 Year Journey, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL
2003
Expanded Horizons, Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT
2003
Deborah Butterfield: Recent Sculpture, Edward Thorp Gallery, NY, NY
2003
Deborah Butterfield, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA
2002
Sculpture, LA Louver Gallery, Venice, CA
2002
Fast Forward II, Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA
2001
The Wild West, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishoj, Denmark
2000
International Festival of Contemporary Sculpture Monte-Carlo, Monaco
2000
Edward Thorpe Gallery, New York, NY
1999
Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL
1999
Animal, Musée Bourdelle, Paris, France
1997
Two in Montana: Deborah Butterfield and John Buck, Sculpture and Woodblock Prints, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
1997
Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA
1996
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
1996
Outdoor Exhibition, Grant Park, Chicago, IL
1994
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA
1992
Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
1989
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA
1989
The Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
1989
The Nature of the Beast, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
1987
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1987
The Bay Area Collects: A Focus on Sculpture, Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1987
Standing Ground:Sculpture by American Women, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cinncinati, OH
1987
Whitney Museum at Philip Morris Sculpture Court, New York, NY
1986
Call of the Wild, Rhode Island School of Design, Museum of Art, Providence, RI
1986
Contemporary Art Center, Honolulu, HI
1985
The Horse in 20th Century Art, Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London, England
1985
Iowa Collects, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
1984
O.K. Harris, New York, NY
1984
Naturlich, Matthews Hamilton Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1983
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC
1983
Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
1982
Mayor Gallery, London, England
1982
100 Years of California Sculpture, The Oakland Museum Oakland, CA
1981
Isreal Museum, Jerusalem, Isreal
1981
ARCO Center for the Visual Arts, Los Angeles, CA
1980
3-D Invitational Exhibit, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA
1979
The Decade in Review: Selections from the 1970's, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1978
The Presence of Nature, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1977
Seventy-sixth Exhibition of Chicago and Vicinity, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1977
Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL
1976
Madison Art Center, Madison, WI
1974
Two Sculptors: Deborah Butterfield and Rudy Serra, University Museum, Berkeley, CA
1973
The Great Variety of Northern California Art, Pan Gallery, Chico, CA
1972
First Southwest Region Exhibition, American Craft Council Gallery, New York, NY
1972
The Sacramento Valley, San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA

Public Collections

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
The Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA
The University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Yale University, New Haven, CT
The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI
The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
The Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
The Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Meijer Sculpture Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI

Literature

2003
Gordon, Robert, et al. Horses: Deborah Butterfield. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
1992
Tucker, Marcia. The Art of Deborah Butterfield. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992.