David Bates is a Dallas native and widely recognized as one of the most acclaimed Texas artists. After receiving a BFA from Southern Methodist University in 1975, he participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program before returning to SMU to earn his MFA in 1978. Upon finishing graduate school, Bates participated in group exhibitions that traveled to museums around the country, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. In 1987, Bates was selected for the prestigious Whitney Biennial, and in 1988, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth organized a traveling exhibition of his work. Since then, several important exhibitions have featured Bates’ art, including a joint retrospective organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in 2014.
Best known for his paintings on canvas or panel, Bates is also prolific in sculpture and works on paper. His work explores the formal limitations of medium and is recognizable for its bold forms and dark outlines. Through both subject matter and style, Bates’ paintings clearly reference American Regionalism, and his still lifes frequently connect to modernists such as Henri Matisse. More than forty museums across the country house work by Bates in their permanent collections, including the Dallas Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Whitney Museum of American Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Lincoln, Nebraska, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the El Paso Museum of Art; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Bates continues to live and work in Dallas, Texas.