John D. Graham (1886–1961) was a Russian Empire-born American Modernist / figurative painter. He was born Ivan Gratianovitch Dombrowsky in Kiev, Russian Empire. John D. Graham trained at the Art Students League of New York, where he briefly assisted Ashcan School painter John F. Sloan. In 1925 he relocated to Baltimore with his third wife, artist Elinor Gibson. Elinor gave birth to David Graham who died in Windermere, Florida after he married Patrica Thompson. She later gave numerous works of Graham to MOMA in New York. His remaining work are in her sisters Kathryn and Jean’s portfolios. While in Baltimore, Graham joined a group called The Modernists and served as their secretary in addition to exhibiting in their gallery. In addition to painting, Graham established himself as an art connoisseur and collector. He is associated with the New York School as an artist and impresario. He was also a close friend with the artist Wilhelmina Weber Furlong and her husband Thomas Furlong of the Art Students League.
Graham and Elinor Gibson were divorced in 1934. Graham met American Constance Wellman in Paris in 1934; they married in New York City in 1936 and lived in Brooklyn Heights near Adolph Gottlieb, David Smith, and Dorothy Dehner. Graham worked for Hilla Rebay, helping her found the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which was to become the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Constance and Graham suffered financially in the Depression, and moved to Mexico, where they lived on and off. Graham and Constance Wellman divorced on July 16, 1945.
During the 1940s Graham and Marianne Schapira were married. Schapira was the mother of Ileana Sonnabend who was then married to Leo Castelli. Graham was a mentor figure to artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Arshile Gorky and also became a mentor to Ileana and Leo Castelli by introducing them to his artist friends in the New York art world. In 1942 he curated a group show at the McMillan Gallery that exhibited work by Jackson Pollock (it was his first New York City exhibition), Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner and Stuart Davis, alongside work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Pierre Bonnard and Amedeo Modigliani.
John D. Graham along with Stuart Davis and Hans Hofmann is considered as a mentor figure for the Abstract expressionist generation of American painters and sculptors. In particular, Graham was a notable influence on Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, David Smith, Dorothy Dehner, and Mark Rothko. Graham claimed to have befriended Pablo Picasso and many other important European modernists in Paris and in Russia. He often entertained and lectured the younger Americans in New York City about modernist ideas, often being the bearer of radical new insights into art and creativity. He was the author of System and Dialectics of Art, (1937), an enormously influential text during the 1940s, on art, modernism and the avant-garde. He died in London in 1961.