Butterfield’s art conveys both a deep love for and a respect for these magnificent animals. Born the same day as the 75th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, Deborah Butterfield has been crafting horses out of scavenged and discarded materials since the 1970’s. At her Montana ranch Butterfield trains, rides and generally bonds with her horses during the summer months. Today there is great demand for her equine sculptures. Sculpting only during the long winter months, Butterfield now may take 3-5 years to complete a work. In her later works, as in our example, Butterfield addresses her sculptures with a more abstract approach. Beginning in 1985 she made a dramatic switch from sticks, mud grass, and wire to bronze for her sculptures, once she discovered what she could do with this metal.
"It was the most fun I ever had. I had all this expressive material that wasn’t long for this world, rotting sticks in piles, and when they were transformed into bronze I could use them. Now I have steel moods and bronze moods."
As a horsewoman Butterfield understands the horse. How she constructs the horse, how she places the sculpture in a certain space is evidence of her acute knowledge of this majestic animal. Yet she also understands the materials—what to use, what to manipulate, and what to change-evidence of her accomplishment as a sculptor. Knowledge of the two creates a work that is the true essence of this creature and her art.
Museums and Public Collections
Art Institute of ChicagoÂ
Dallas Museum of Art, TexasÂ Â Â
Fine Arts Museums of San FranciscoÂ Â Â
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York CityÂ Â Â
Deborah Butterfield at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.
Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, Missouri
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe
Colby College Museum of Art, Maine
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.Â Â Â
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, Florida
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York
Palm Springs Desert Museum, California
Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona
Rockwell Museum of Western Art, Corning, New York
San Diego Museum of Art, CaliforniaÂ Â Â
The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Kentucky Art Museum
Walker Art Center, Minnesota
Yellowstone Art Museum, Montana