“Always struggling against the facile and fashionable, Michael Spafford has created a unique, monumental style that is a synthesis of powerful imagery and brilliant formal invention. He draws upon his masterful draftsmanship and rigorous formal skills to create paintings that are psychologically penetrating.  His vision is a timeless one conveying both an affirmation of life and a deep awareness of mortality. Spafford’s paintings are provocative, emphatic statements that haunt memory.”
    – Bruce Guenther, Curator of Contemporary Art


Upcoming Exhibitions

The 34th annual Fine Print Fair at the Cleveland Museum of Art
October 11-14, 2018

The Davidson Galleries will be attending, and bringing some of Michael’s work.
Use this link to view their online inventory: https://www.davidsongalleries.com/

Contact: 206.623.7684 / sam@davidsongalleries.com



Art Zone: Michael Spafford's 'Epic Works'
4/6/2018 8:08
Renowned Northwest painter Michael Spafford gets an epic three-gallery retrospective of his work. Nancy Guppy chats with the curators of the unique exhibition: Spike Mafford, Michael's son, and Lisa Dutton, Michael's daughter-in-law.

"Epic Works" light up Seattle, by Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong & Marci Sillman
April 9, 2018

The Seattle Times:
Three Seattle galleries join forces to display works of artist Michael Spafford, by Gayle Clemans
March 28, 2018

Greg Kucera Gallery Press Release
February 1, 2018


Michael C. Spafford is one of the most respected and admired artists living and working in the Northwest today. A graduate of Pomona College and Harvard University, he is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington School of Art. During his career as a painter and printmaker he has received numerous awards, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant, the first Behnke Foundation “Neddy” award and a Flintridge Foundation Award. In 1967 he was given the prestigious Rome Prize and was honored in 1983 with an art award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, NYC. In 2005 he was invited to be Artist-In-Residence at Dartmouth College which concluded in a major exhibition of recent paintings. His work has been widely collected and exhibited and includes mural commissions at the Kingdome, The Washington State House of Representatives Chamber and the Seattle Opera House. Spafford remains an integral and sometimes provocative, force in the vibrant cultural milieu of Seattle.

Above all, he is a painter devoted to his work with inspiring rigor, humility, and depth.



This alteration of Descartes’ famous phrase has become something of a motto for Spafford, who prefers to be called a painter rather than an artist. He is most interested in the physical and formal challenges of the process of painting, while seeking interesting and effective expressive equations to the action of the narrative. Much of his work is based on Greco-Roman and Mexican mythology, though his mural in McCaw Hall was inspired by a Wallace Stevens poem entitled “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”  Marshaling the figurative aspects of these enduring allegories in an abstract way creates a scaffold for direct expression. Furious creation and metamorphosis, the often brutal confrontation of opposites and the ultimate failure of heroic struggle — all emerge through Spafford’s efforts to translate these gestures into tangible, cathartic visual terms. Exploring a recurring theme over time in extended series has allowed him to rework them freshly again and again.  He builds the cumulative power of the imagery with each successive interpretation. His instinctive, rigorous physical approach to his work seems like a form of devotion, informed by a rare intelligence and power.


View more images on Instagram: