Deborah Butterfield 1949 —


Butterfield works independently of the tides of trends and art movements.
She has become a master of three-dimensional images of horses, building
her sculptures with no sketches or maquettes, working directly
with wood pieces or found metal scraps.

Butterfield's work is a combination of abstraction and reality. She uses found objects, related to both horses and the discards of modern society, and applies these symbolic objects to armaments that are realistic shapes of horses' bodies. The overall effect is of a large, strong, loveable animal, gentle and calm, and it is obvious from the gentle personality conveyed by the objects that she has a strong affinity and understanding of her subjects.

Butterfield received a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of California at Davis where she was a student of modernists William T Wiley, Robert Arneson, and Wayne Thiebaud. Her training in ceramics and sculpture increased her interest in crafts, but she decided to pursue the subject matter that was of most interest to her--horses.

Her work has progressed through three stages. In the 1970s, she structured large, gentle mares that were highly realistic and were life-size plaster over steel armatures* and were finished with a combination of thin oil paint, ceramic glazes and shellac. She used muted blues and other colors, treating the horse romantically as though it were a canvas to be painted.

In later works she took a more abstract approach, eliminating plaster and using mud mixed with straw, branches, and other fibers that had a direct connection to the earth. Sometimes she used paper mache and tar on the outside.

In the 1980s and forward, she abandoned mud and used the junk of the twentieth century such as discarded barbed wire, metal pipes, wood fencing, rusting wire, corrugated metal, crushed steel, chicken wire, etc.

She has taught art in several universities including the University of Wisconsin and the University of Montana and then settled her studio on her ranch in Bozeman, Montana, where she also raises horses.


An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs  by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.

To bookmark Janet Lehr Fine Arts Gallery website:

View synoptic biography below.

Please contact the gallery for current inventory.

Please contact the gallery for current inventory.
Image courtesy of the Figge Art Museum

Synoptic Biography

1966-68 San Diego State College, California.
1969 University of California, San Diego.
Big Creek Pottery, Santa Cruz, California, summer.
1970-72 University of California Davis, BA, with honors.
1972 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine.
1973 University of California Davis, MFA
1996 Black Belt Wado Ryo Karate, Bozeman, Montana.
1998 Black Belt, Nippon Kokusai Karate, Kailu-Kona, Hawaii.

1974-75 University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. Visiting Lecturer, Sculpture.
1975-77 University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. Assistant Professor, Sculpture.
1977-79 Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Visiting Artist.
1979-83 Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Assistant Professor.
1984-87 Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Adjunct Assistant Professor;
Graduate Student Consultant.

1972 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine, Purchase
Award for Sculpture and Student Jury Award for Sculpture.
1976 University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, Grant, Summer Session.
1977 National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship.
1980 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.
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.

1975 Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin, Commission for sculpture,
1983 Corporate Center, Sacramento, California, Commission for sculpture.
1986 Gladstein & Heesy, Kentucky Derby Festival of Arts, Churchill Downs,
Kentucky. Commission for sculpture.
1987 Urban Development Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts, Commission for
sculpture for Copley Square.
1988 Walker Art Center, Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota
1989 Greenwich Arts Council, CT, Commission for Sculpture.
1995 Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon, Commission for sculpture.
Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington, Commission for
Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City, Missouri. Commission for Sculpture.
1997 Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado. Commission for Sculpture.
2006 Cañada College, Redwood City, CA

1992 Lowe Art Museum - University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, Horses: The Art of Deborah Butterfield, February 6 - March 29.

1993 Beall Park Art Center, Bozeman, Montana, Deborah Butterfield Sculpture,
July 1 - 28.

1994 Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin, Deborah Butterfield Sculpture 1980 to 1992, February 19 - May 1. Catalogue.

Beall Park Art Center, Bozeman, Montana, Deborah Butterfield Sculpture,
July 1 - 28.

1996 The CLC Gallery, Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota, Deborah Butterfield:
Recent Work, Oct 20- Dec 14.

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, Deborah Butterfield, July 20-
Sept 15.

2001 Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington, Deborah Butterfield: Figures of
Horses, July - Nov, 2001.

2002 Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana, The Horses of Deborah Butterfield,
February 14- May 19, 2002.

Rockford College, Rockford, IL, UnCommon Lives: Extraordinary Women in the
Arts, March 18-22,2002

Zolla/Liberman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, Deborah Butterfield: New Sculpture,
Sept 13 - Nov 9, 2002.

Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, Deborah Butterfield,
October 25-Dec 18, 2002.

2003 LA Louver, Venice, California, Deborah Butterfield, January 24 - February 22,

2003 Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana, August 15- Janury 6, 2004

The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 21- July 25, 2004
Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, Florida, September -December 2004

2005 University of Louisiana Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana, January 14-April 30, 2005

Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, Florida, September - December 2005

Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN, January 13 - April 9, 2006

Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ, April 21 - July 30, 2006
LA Louver, Venice, CA

2007 Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
"Deborah Butterfield: Horses," Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV

Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley
Boise Art Museum
Cincinnati Art Museum
Columbus Museum of Art
Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA
Dallas Museum, Dallas, TX
Delaware Museum of Art
Des Moines Art Center
Denver Art Museum
Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Lowe Museum, University of Miami, FL
Meijer Sculpture Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI
Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
New Jersey State Museum
New Orleans Museum of Art
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
Oakland Museum of Art
Palm Springs Desert Museum
Samuel P. Harn Museum, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
San Diego Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Jose Museum of Art
Seattle Art Museum
Smithsonian American Art Museum
J.B. Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, KY
Toledo Museum of Art
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
University of California, Davis, Alumni Center
University of California, Los Angles, Frankin D, Murphy Sculpture Garden
University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art
Walker Art Center
Whitney Museum of Art
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wausau, WI
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT

1994 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, August 5, 1994.
2001 Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, CO, July 26, 2001.
De Rosa Perserve, Napa Valley, CA, September 8, 2001.
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, April 23, 2001.
2002 Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT, February 20, 2002.
Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, November 7, 2002.
Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA, June 24, 2002.
Rockford College, Rockford, IL, March 22 & 23, 2002.

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