Nathan Oliveira Biography

Nathan Oliveira




Nathan Joseph Roderick, known as Nathan Oliveira was born in Oakland, California on December 19, 1928, to a family of Portuguese immigrants who had changed the family name from Rodrigues. His father separated from Nathan’s mother when the boy was an infant and she later married another Portuguese immigrant, George Oliveira, whose last name his stepson adopted. 

Oliveira studied painting and printmaking at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts or CCAC) in Oakland, and in the summer of 1950 with Max Beckmann at Mills College in Oakland. After two years in the U.S. Army as a cartographic draftsman, he began teaching painting in 1955 at CCAC and drawing and printmaking at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Since then he held many guest teaching appointments at various art schools and universities. He held a tenured teaching position at Stanford University from 1964 until his retirement in 1995.  

In 1959, Oliveira was the youngest painter included in the important exhibition New Images of Man at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A survey of five years of his paintings and works on paper was shown at the Art Gallery of the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1963, and a fifteen-year survey of his paintings was organized by the Oakland Museum of California in 1973. He had a print retrospective in 1980 at California State University, Long Beach, and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco organized a survey of his work in monotype in 1997.

Oliveira was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994 and has received many other awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two honorary doctorates, and, in 2000, membership in a distinguished order conferred by the government of Portugal. His work is in the collections of many museums, among them the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Nathan Oliveira died in Palo Alto, California on November 13, 2010.

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