DON NICE (1932-2019)

Don Nice is a classic figure in American art.  He burst upon the scene in the early 1960’s when the Whitney Museum of American Art acquired his “American Series #5” and he was subsequently  recognized as one of the innovative group of “new perceptual realists” who wanted to put content back into painting. Nice integrated a gestured technique gleaned from earlier expressionist and Abstract Expressionist painters with a realist focus and energy derived from Pop Art. Combining a naturalist’s interest in observation with an artist’s compulsion for artistic vision, Nice embraced aspects of popular culture and critical issues of our time. He painted classic American products like sneakers, candy wrappers and soda bottles with the same intensity he lavished on quintessential site-specific landscapes from the Hudson River Valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  In doing so he created a distinctive vision of civilization’s detritus in league with cultural concerns for the environment. Born in California, Nice studied art in Europe and earned an MFA at Yale, and then established himself in New York City before acquiring a house and studio overlooking the Hudson River.  He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for many years and has served as Dean. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, where he served as Vice President. Always passionate about sharing his vision, Nice was an Artist in Residence at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; Oklahoma Arts Institute, Quartz Mountain Oklahoma; Yosemite National Park; State University of New York, Purchase, Ford Foundation Purchase Program;  and  University of California, Davis. Commissions include National Fine Arts Committee Murals for 1980 Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid, New York.Over the past 50 years, Nice’s work has entered the permanent collections of more than 70 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Australia. Nice has had over 60 solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and has been included in more than 140 group exhibitions in prominent galleries and museums globally. Nice’s work has been a subject of 4 major publications, including a monograph of the Artist’s life and work,  Don Nice: The Nature of Art, by John Driscoll, published by Pomegranate Books.  In 2018 he was the recipient of The Lee Krasner Award in recognition of a lifetime of artistic achievement for his distinguished career. 

Throughout Nice’s carrier he had a deeply held concern for the environment and collaborated with environmental advocate organizations such as Nation Resource Defense Council, Open Space Institute, and the Hudson Highland land Trust to name a few. 

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