John D. Graham

American, 1886-1961

White Fish, 1930

Oil on canvas

19 ¾ x 25 ⅝ inches

Signed and dated upper left: “Graham / 30”

Inscribed on verso: “26”

In a letter from October of 1928, Graham wrote to Phillips about a new series of paintings that were dominated by egg forms (Alicia G. Longwell, John Graham: Maverick Modernist, Parrish Art Museum, Prestel Press, 2017, p. 150). The present work, White Fish is among these paintings that were created between 1928 and 1930. In these Cubist-inspired works, Graham used a minimal color palette with unusual, overlapping shapes, while also exploring pattern and texture in the paint. In White Fish, a large, flat egg is painted atop several geometric shapes and patterns that are heavily outlined in black. An object shaped as a musical instrument, or perhaps a saw is pictured in the foreground and was used by Graham in several other works from this series, including White Still Life (Musical Instrument and Hammer), 1930. White Fish and other works from this period are important and rare abstract works by Graham. By the early 1940s, he abandoned abstraction in favor of semi-realistic portraits and self- portraits.