Grace Hartigan

(American, 1922-2008)

Oil with collage

Support: Wove paper

Sheet: 57.5 x 72.4 cm (22 5/8 x 28 1/2 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.80



In the male-dominated art world of 1950s New York, Grace Hartigan became a key member of the younger generation of Abstract Expressionists to follow Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Committed to bold abstraction, she created a personal style developing out of her interests in the figure and the urban environment.

In this piece, Hartigan juxtaposes colors but avoids the allover distribution of forms and tones characteristic of Abstract Expressionism. The contrast between the large violet shape and the complementary yellow section below is balanced by the area of heavy white paint at the lower left, and by the grays, whites, pinks, and yellows in the area bound by swift black strokes at the upper right.

Like many Abstract Expressionist works, this painting exposes the processes of its making and the physical action of the artist. Notice the strokes of black, yellow, and white at the right and the triangular strip collaged into the center. Hartigan not only painted over this collage section, but she then peeled part of it away, leaving behind a roughly textured paper surface which she enhanced by lightly applying gray and black.

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