Woman Artist: Deborah Butterfield

Deborah Butterfield – American sculptor (1949 – Present)


Deborah Butterfield received both her BA and MFA from the University of California, Davis. She is primarily known for her prolific series of horse sculptures created in an array of sculptural material, some traditional like steel and others less traditional like driftwood, found objects and the remains of old buildings.


I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel across the United States for the last seven years and during my travels I have been fortunate in my ability to visit many great art museums. Sometimes it seems as if every museum in the country has in their collection their own wonderful Butterfield Horse. Once you are familiar with her horses you can easily recognize them on sight and yet it’s impossible to be bored by them because each one feels like a different animal. Though the horses are not realistically represented they do represent actual individual horses. Butterfield’s skill with material and her ability to capture the truest character and essence of the horse is extraordinary, one would half expect them to show signs of life when approached in the gallery. One, mostly I, would wish that they would.

Butterfield’s knack to creatively invoke the spirit of the horses into sculpture no doubt comes from her extensive experience with horses.  She has even claimed that her obsession for the majestic animal stems from her birth on the 75th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby. While still in college she purchased her first horse.

“I ride and school my own horses and feel that my art relies heavily upon, and often parallels, my continuing dialogue with them,” – Deborah Butterfield

Butterfield and her artist husband, John Buck, divide their time between a working ranch in Montana and a studio in Hawaii. Butterfield schedule consists of working on her sculptures only during the winter season while in Hawaii and then spends the rest of the year studying and working with her horses on the ranch in Montana. Because she tends to limits herself to creating her work only in the winter it can sometimes takes 3-4 years to complete one horse thus leaving a growing list of eager collectors waiting a long time.

For more information about Deborah Butterfield and her horses I recommend checking out the following links

University of Texas at Austin

Equitrekking – Visiting Deborah Butterfield’s Horses


About palechickstudios

Artist, Blogger, Traveler, Tea enthusiast View all posts by palechickstudios

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