Lanier Graham

lanier graham 1
LANIER GRAHAM on the cover of CALIFORNIA LIVING: THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER MAGAZINE (June 1970) pictured in the first exhibition gallery he curated and installed at the de Young Museum, an exhibition called “Reflection on War & Peace.” It was a response to the Vietnam War in general, and in particular to the killing of students of Kent State which had taken place a few weeks before. The wall label does not argue for war or peace, but does invite the visitor to reflect on the meaning of those words.

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Title: Artist, Poet

Location: Brentwood, California, United States

Lanier Graham, Artist and Poet, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Artists for dedication, achievements, and leadership in art and poetry.

EARLY PAINTING & SCULPTURE 1) “ZEN DANCER: A Portrait of Master Chi,” a sumi brush painting (1964). (2) “MoMA CHESS SET” (designed 1966); acquired for the permanent collection by MoMA & exhibited by MoMA 1967; editioned as a multiple by MoMA 1968 & again in 2010. This patented “box with game pieces & a little book inside” is also in the collections of two major European art museums.

Mr. Graham has achieved international distinction as an artist and poet. His visual art is in the permanent collections of major museums in the United States, France, and Germany.  His poetry has been published in America, Europe, Australia, and Japan.  He is described as an “Artist-Poet” because most of his work involves being both at the same time.

He also is well-known as an educator with an international reputation. That includes his work as an art historian, curator, and professor, and as an author and editor who has sold over a million books. A long profile of that work as an educator may be found by reading his press release for his Lifetime Achievement Award, located by clicking here. Of the 1.5 million biographies in Who’s Who publications worldwide, only five percent have been given this Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

The short profile on this page summarizes his career as one of under 300 Top Professional Artists in the United States. As an artist-poet, he spends about half of his studio time making portraits, and half his studio time making illustrated books. Mr. Graham has been doing both since 1954 when he was 14. Inspired by the simultaneous visual/verbal work of William Blake, he started Sun Moon Press in the attic of his family home. He has been writing, illustrating, and publishing poetry books ever since.

Continuing the Dada/Surrealist tradition of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell, his sculpted portraits (usually collaged images and words framed inside deep wooden boxes) are widely admired.  His “Box Art” is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in a number of other American museums.

His work as a visual artist is difficult to separate from this work as a poet. He rarely writes poems he does not illustrate in a book format. He rarely makes a drawing or a collage that he does not accompany with a poem. In other words, he uses his left/right brain at the same time. The bibliography for this line of work has over 50 citations. This bibliography may be found at WORLDARTPRESS.COM.

2 BOOKS AS ART 1) THE RAINBOW BOOK of 1975, 1976, & 1979, a concise encyclopedia of color with sections on Art, Physics, & Metaphysics. The pages of each chapter are colored in a spectral sequence making the book itself a rainbow. (2) DUCHAMP (in-a-BOX) of 2001, a book/box that is in a number of public collections including The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, & The Getty in Los Angeles.

Mr. Graham’s work on educational books is equally bimodal.  For most of the books he has written or edited on the history of art, culture, and consciousness, he also has directed the visual dimension of the presentation as the book’s art director or designer.  The list of this group of books, catalogs, and exhibition brochures has over 100 citations.  An illustrated bibliography of these educational books may be found at WORLDARTPRESS.COM.

Three of the best-known of Mr. Graham’s illustrated books are in the Artist’s Book Collection of the Getty in Los Angeles, and in the Artist’s Book Collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: THE RAINBOW BOOK of 1975, DUCHAMP (in-a-Box) of 2001, and DUCHAMP & ANDROGYNY: ART, GENDER, AND METAPHYSICS of 2003.

Mr. Graham has been exhibiting his work in museums and galleries for most of his life, starting with being part of a group exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1967. “SPIRIT-MATTER” – a retrospective exhibition of his sculpted portraits and illustrated poems – has been planned for 2020 at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.


PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE from the “Beloved Ancestors” series that features objects that Graham’s ancestors owned and loved, enshrined in boxes they owned and loved. (Series was constructed from 1958 to 2004.) All these portrait-boxes (that Graham calls “reliquaries”) are in museum collections. Five generations of the Lanier Family have returned to their Tennessee home, and five generations of the Graham Family have returned to their Oklahoma home. Top Row: OFFICER WILL MITCHELL – Paternal Great Grandfather; HONORABLE LOUIS DIXON BOLTON – Paternal Great Stepfather; MRS. MITCHELL BOLTON (“Boltie”) – Paternal Great Grandmother; Middle Row: MRS. SIDNEY C. LANIER (Mary Theodora Browne) – Maternal Great Grandmother; MRS. T. E. GRAHAM (“Maydee”) – Paternal Grandmother; REV. T. E. GRAHAM – Paternal Grandfather; Bottom Row: A.D.R. LANIER – Maternal Grandfather; MRS. A.D.R. LANIER (“Bertie”) – Maternal Grandmother; MRS. FLOYD GRAHAM (Martha E. Lanier) – Mother; DR. FLOYD GRAHAM – Father.

For more information, please visit:

The Museum of Modern Art

Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award Press Release

Lifetime Achievement

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Contact Mr. Graham: