Nathan Oliveira was born in Oakland, California in 1928 to a family of Portuguese immigrants. He studied painting and printmaking at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts, or CCAC) in Oakland, and in the summer of 1950 with Max Beckmann at Mills College in Oakland. After two years in the U.S. Army as a cartographic draftsman, he began teaching painting in 1955 at CCAC and drawing and printmaking at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute, or SFAI). In 1959 Oliveira was the youngest painter included in the groundbreaking exhibition, New Images of Man, which included established artists such as Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since then he held numerous guest teaching appointments at various art schools and universities. He held a tenured teaching position at Stanford University from 1964 until he retired in 1995. During his career, surveys of his work were held at the Art Gallery of the University of California, Los Angeles (1963); Oakland Museum of California (1973); California State University, Long Beach (1980); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1984); California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (1997); and the San Jose Museum of Art (2002). Oliveira was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994 and has received many other awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two honorary doctorates, and, in 2000, membership in a distinguished order conferred by the government of Portugal. His work is collected nationally and is held in the collections of many distinguished institutions. Oliveira passed away in 2010 at his home in Palo Alto, California.
Biography adapted from Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco.