james grant
painter and sculptor


Early Figurative Work
James Grant was a painter and sculptor most active from the late 1950s into the early 1970s. Best known for his sculptural work in plastics, this work by no means defined him, but was rather a natural endpoint of an exploration into increased dimensionality -- starting from abstract canvases, moving through collages and bas-reliefs until the work finally came off the wall in sculptural form.

Abstract Expressionist
Grant was born in Los Angeles in 1924. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Engineering from USC, he went on to pursue his M.F.A. at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles, studying under Rico Lebrun. In 1950 he accepted a teaching position at Pomona College in Claremont, CA where he was Assistant Professor of Art for nine years. During his tenure at Pomona he worked with many influential artists and art historians, including painters Karl Benjamin and Frederick Hammersley, as well as Peter Selz (who later went on to become Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, New York) and Seymour Slive (Director of the Fogg Museum, Harvard University).

While working in Southern California, Grant had solo exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum, Pomona College, and U.C. Riverside, and group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum, the Oakland Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art (now S.F. MoMA).


After Pomona, Grant enjoyed a two year stay in Rome where his paintings began to develop in texture -- moving more towards collage work, using both paint and fabric. His stay was punctuated by a solo exhibition at the Galleria Pogliani in Rome.

Upon returning to the United States in 1962, Grant settled in San Francisco, where his collage work continued. In 1963 he had a solo exhibition at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. During the 60s, he showed regularly at galleries and museums both in the Bay Area (Hansen Gallery) and New York (Bertha Schaefer Gallery and Grand Central Moderns).

In the mid 1960s, his collages began to include polyester resin which he applied in a painterly fashion to the canvas. Soon he began to cast the resin into large, textured bas-reliefs. His plastic work culminated in the development of large cast resin freestanding sculptures of geometric disks, tall spikes and subtly curved shapes which were highly polished.

Freestanding resin sculpture

In 1970, he had a retrospective at Mills College in Oakland documenting his transition in style from abstract canvases to collages to bas-reliefs and finally the freestanding sculptures.

In the 1970s, he worked on several commissioned works, many incorporating unique plastic and glass materials.

After a break from art during the late 1970s, he returned to painting in the early 1980s producing small watercolors that were cut into squares and reassembled into grids. He then took this format to a large scale, painting acrylic canvases which were also cut into squares and reassembled in works ranging from four to eight feet. This work continued into the 1990s.

Grant passed away in Stinson Beach, CA in August 1997.

© 2007 jamesgrant.org