Universal Woman, a figurative bronze sculpture with strong local ties was completed by Nathan Oliveira in 2008. The sculpture depicts a slender female figure treading softly, with one foot directly in front of the other. Universal Woman is the result of a continued desire by the artist to create a larger-than-life scale bronze. It had been previously featured at the Palo Alto Art Center as part of the Nathan Oliveira: The Painter’s Bronzes exhibition in 2008. This exhibition—unparalleled in its size and scope—included many of the artist’s bronze works created over a span of 5 decades. Universal Woman was generously donated to the City by the artist’s family in 2013.
Born in Oakland in 1928 to a family of Portuguese immigrants, Nathan Oliveira was a prominent painter, printmaker and sculptor. Throughout his life Oliveira had hundreds of group and solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. His work is collected internationally and is held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and SF Museum of Modern Art. Oliveira had an active teaching career at Stanford University between 1964 and 1995. The artist’s studio was located on the corner of Emerson and Hamilton Ave in downtown Palo Alto for 25 years. Oliveira passed away in 2010 at his home in Palo Alto.
The Palo Alto public art collection features another artwork by Nathan Oliveira. Donated to the City by the artist, this lithograph titled “Blue Nude”, 1975 depicts a standing slender female figure emerging from the darkness.
“If a figure doesn’t look back at you, you forget it.” Nathan Oliveira