Collector’s Choice: Grace Hardigan


http-americanart-si-edu-images-1969-1969-47-17_1a-jpgPallas Athena–Earthoil on canvas64 1/8 x 52 1/8 in. (162.9 x 132.4 cm.)Smithsonian American Art MuseumGift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.1969.47.17

Grace Hartigan was an American was a second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter and a member of the New York School.
Born: March 28, 1922, Newark, NJ
Died: November 15, 2008, Baltimore, MD

Luce Center Quote

“I knew . . . painting was not an activity but a total life. And you would do anything to keep painting, even if you starved. You were the paintings and the paintings were you.” Hartigan, quoted in Mattison, Grace Hartigan: A Painters World, 1990

Luce Center Label

Pallas Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom, strategy, and war. Grace Hartigan has been inspired by fantasy since childhood, when she would dream up stories filled with gypsies, queens, and fairy-tale characters. Here, figural elements emerge from the image, such as the suggestion of a face in the top right, but Hartigan’s thick, abstract strokes of paint dominate the canvas. The rich tones of red, brown, and black evoke the earth, spreading across the lower half of the canvas, and the jumbled mass of color at the top may represent the confusion and noise of the realm of the gods. (Barber, “Making Some Marks,” quoted in Mattison, Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World, 1990)

Many thanks to the Smithsonian  American Art Museum

 

 Artists in 60 Seconds: Grace Hartigan

© 2008 Grace Hartigan; used with permission - © 2008 Grace Hartigan
Grace Hartigan (American, 1922-2008). New England October, 1957. Oil on canvas. 68 1/4 x 83 in. (173.4 x 210.8 cm). Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1958. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.  © 2008 Grace Hartigan

Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:

Abstract Expressionism

Grace Hartigan did, indeed, get her start as an Abstract Expressionist–she was a “second generation” member of the New York School, and its most visible female member. She very quickly moved on, though, and caught tremendous flak from artist friends and critics for introducing representational elements into her work.

She has been called a precursor to Pop Art (a movement with which she did not care to be associated). In honesty, Hartigan was so intellectually curious that her work changed regularly over six decades. The most accurately descriptive stylistic phrase would be “her own.”

Date and Place of Birth:

March 28, 1922, Newark, New Jersey

Grace was the eldest of four children born to her accountant father and housewife mother. According to interviews, her parents seemed to have lacked sympathy and understanding for their daughter’s creative nature. However, her grandmother and schoolteacher aunt (both of whom lived in the other half of the family duplex in her early childhood) filled her imaginative young head with Irish folklore, fairy tales and a love of the English language.

portrait_of_grace_hartigan_in_life_magazine_may_13_1957

All of this manifested in Grace’s desire to become an actress, and fascination with Gypsy caravans that passed through the area seasonally.

Her Start in Art:

Alas, Grace would never become an actress. She married for the first time (there would, eventually, be four Misters Hartigan) straight out of high school. The newlyweds’ cross-country trip to homestead in Alaska ended in Los Angeles when they (1) ran out of money and (2) Grace discovered she was pregnant.

Shortly afterwards, the United States entered WWII. Her husband drafted, Grace returned to the East Coast to live with her in-laws and got a job as a mechanical draftsman (on the strength of a few drawing classes in California). In this most un-creative setting, a co-worker introduced her to Matisse’s works.

 

grace_hartigan

 

A Star Is Born:

Hartigan–never one to take half-measures–moved very quickly from “wanting to draw like that” (meaning Matisse) to painting full-time in a cold water flat on the Lower East Side. It was here that she met nearly the entire “First Generation” of New York School painters, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. This community of artists accepted her as one of their own–although it is important to remember that no one was selling at the time, and all of them were financially strapped. A band of talented equals, happy to meet nightly at the Cedar Tavern for talk, drinks and an affordable meal.

In due course Pollock and de Kooning were “discovered,” which focused critical and gallery interest on the entire New York School. Hartigan had been showing with the undiscovereds; Pollock recommended her for the New Talent 1950 show at the Kootz Gallery and the rest, as they say, is history. As was the case with nearly everyone else in the Cedar Tavern circle, Grace sold every canvas she could paint in the 1950s–albeit at lower prices than her male counterparts commanded. More importantly, to her, she developed many new artistic friendships and maintained most of those that she already had.

 

ae382447a33715ca19d82d80d1165eb2

A Star Voluntarily Disappears:

And then, in 1960, she married her fourth husband, Winston Price, a medical researcher at Johns Hopkins University. Hartigan moved to Baltimore, which was at that time akin to Outer Mongolia in terms of sales or gallery interest. (Coincidentally, 1960 was also the year that Pop Art began to be the Next Big Thing.)

She kept painting, though, and in 1965 carved a niche for herself as an instructor, a role she enjoyed for the next 42 years. Grace Hartigan will forever be best known as one of the few women who were accepted by the “guys”–and successfully showed and sold–in the New York School of Abstract Expressionism.

 

abstractsilkscreen

 

 

Important Works:

  • Persian Jacket, 1952
  • The Oranges (series), 1952-53
  • Grand Street Brides, 1954
  • New England October, 1957
  • Reisterstown Mall, 1965

In the category of “Important Works,” it would be shameful not to include Ms. Hartigan’s 40+ years as director of the graduate program at the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art. She didn’t care to be called a “teacher,” and downplayed her influence. But the fact remains that from 1965-2007 she mentored, criticized and generally helped hundreds of painters find their own paths.

Date and Place of Death:

November 15, 2008, Timonium, Maryland

Quotes From Grace Hartigan:

  • Art is still the only place in the world where you can do exactly what you want if you pay the price, which is having no one else want it. — Grace Hartigan interview, 1979 May 10, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
  • I cannot expect even my own art to provide all the answers – only to hope it keeps asking all the right questions.
  • There’s a lot of work I still want to do. But the thing that’s been incredible is that one way or another I’ve been able to arrange my life so that I could paint every day. And that’s been the main thing.Baltimore Sun interview, October 28, 2001.

Sources and Further Reading

  • Hartigan, Grace. Grace Hartigan (exh. cat.).
    Purchase, N.Y. : Neuberger Museum of Art, 2001.
  • Hartigan, Grace. Grace Hartigan: Painting the Renaissance (exh. cat.).
    New York : Gruenebaum Gallery, 1986.
  • Hirsh, Sharon L. Grace Hartigan: Painting Art History.
    Carlisle, PA : The Trout Gallery, Dickinson College, 2003.
  • Kleeblatt, Norman L. (ed.) Action/Abstraction:
    Pollock, de Kooning and American Art, 1940-1976
    (exh. cat.).
    New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.
  • Mattison, Robert S. Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World.
    New York : Hudson Hills Press, 1990.
  • Munro, Eleanor C. Originals: American Women Artists.
    New York : Da Capo Press, 2000.
  • Puniello, Françoise S.; Halina R. Rusak. Abstract Expressionist Women Painters: An Annotated Bibliography: Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Ethel Schwabacher.
    Lanham, MD : Scarecrow Press, 1996.

 

Collector’s Choice: Mary-Lynne Moffatt


 

image

 

 

image

The Beatles

 

https://www.facebook.com/MaryLynneMoffattArt/

“I hand make these collectables in my studio in Souderton PA. They reflect my imagination and individuality and are one-of-a-kind. There are no molds. Each piece is created with clay, wood, wire, beads, screws, vintage items, recycled paintbrushes, or items I have found or collected. Each piece is hand painted with a look of well worn, well loved objects. My concept is to invoke a memory of being a kid and seeing a toy that makes you happy!”   Mary Lynne Moffatt

 

image
“I create these whimsical sculptures in my studio in Pennsylvania to evoke a memory of childhood for me and everyone who enjoys them. They have an aged finish to give a look of something old.” Mary-Lynn Moffatt

“To see one of these sculptures by Mary-Lynne Moffatt is to immediately exit, stage left from any residual bad feelings caused by a day of tedious cares and relentless stress. And how many of us have days like that? I know I never do. 

Now can you imagine one of these pieces prominently displayed in your home or office to permanently offset any bad mood cloud that might try to roost above your head?

Lest you forget in the cares of everyday life that there is magic all around us, and that it can be summoned up from our heart, soul a and mind at any given time, then Mary-Lynne’s art pieces can serve as a reminder that magic is real, and it is really always with us. ”  Jan Kirstein

  

“This is ” Miss Half & Half”, named for the label on the old tobacco tin that makes it look like a banner a beauty contestant wears. Her legs are two recycled paintbrushes I painted then aged . Her neck is an old thread spool, cut in half and that crown she’s wearing is a re-purposed toilet paper tube. I created her arms with clay and wire, and the little blue bird she’s holding ,too. Now the head started as a paper mâché apple. I added some paper clay, old book pages, and tissue paper. She’s a winner, alright, my little Miss Half & Half.
” 

“I hand make these collectables in my studio in Souderton PA. They reflect my imagination and individuality and are one-of-a-kind. There are no molds. Each piece is created with clay, wood, wire, beads, screws, vintage items, recycled paintbrushes, or items I have found or collected. Each piece is hand painted with a look of well worn, well loved objects. My concept is to invoke a memory of being a kid and seeing a toy that makes you happy!”  Anne Lynne Moffatt

Be sure to sign up for the KIRSTEINFINEART website for more high quality material like today’s informative feature story. Just go to the bottom of this page, click the subscribe button, enter your name and email.