Deborah Butterfield

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Deborah Butterfield
'Nahele', metal sculpture by --Deborah Butterfield--, 1986, --The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu--.jpg
Sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, 1986,
Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House
Born (1949-05-07) May 7, 1949 (age 66)
San Diego, CA
Nationality American
Education University of California, Davis
Known for Sculpture

Deborah Kay Butterfield (born May 7, 1949) is an American sculptor. Along with her artist-husband John Buck, she divides her time between a farm in Bozeman, Montana and studio space in Hawaii. She is known for her sculptures of horses made from found objects, like metal, and especially pieces of wood.[1]


Born the same day as the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby, Butterfield partly credits that birthdate as an inspiration for her subject matter; she has also said that she would have preferred to work in the female form, but that her mentor Manuel Neri dominated that form. Instead, she chose to create self-portraits using images of horses. Gradually, the horses themselves became her primary theme. Butterfield earned her bachelor's degree (1972) and a Master of Fine Arts (1973) at the University of California, Davis, where she met her husband, artist John Buck, whom she married in 1974.[1]


Butterfield's work has been exhibited widely and there is demand among art collectors for her sculptures. She began crafting horses out of scrap metal and cast bronze in the early 1980s. She would sculpt a piece using wood and other materials fastened together with wire, then photograph the piece from all angles so as to be able to reassemble the piece in metal. She works only in the winter, so pieces usually take 3 to 5 years.[1]

As critic Grace Glueck wrote in The New York Times in 2004, "By now Deborah Butterfield's skeletal horses, fashioned of found wood, metal and other detritus, are familiar to almost a generation of gallerygoers. Yet they still have a freshness, which comes from the artist's regard for them as individuals. In fact, training, riding and bonding with horses, as she does at her Montana ranch, she thinks of them as personifications of herself...They seem to express the very spirit of equine existence."[2]

Deborah Butterfield is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco; Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, Washington; LA Louver, Los Angeles, California; and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois. The Honolulu Museum of Art,[3] the Rockwell Museum (Corning, N.Y), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Delaware Art Museum, and the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, New York) are among the public collections holding work by Deborah Butterfield.

See also[edit]

Horses in art


  1. ^ a b c "Butterfield's horses ride into MAC opening". East Valley Tribune. September 14, 2005. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Grace Glueck, "Art in Review: Deborah Butterifeld," The New York Times, January 16, 2004.
  3. ^ Honolulu Museum of Art, Spalding House Self-guided Tour, Sculpture Garden, 2014, pp. 9 & 14

External links[edit]