Lot 41
  • 41

Grace Hartigan

400,000 - 600,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Grace Hartigan
  • Months and Moons
  • signed and dated 50; signed twice, titled twice and dated 50 on the stretcher
  • oil and collage on canvas
  • 55 by 71 1/4 in. 139.7 by 180.8 cm.


The Artist
C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2006


New York, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Grace Hartigan, January 1951
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Fifties: Aspects of Painting in New York, May - September 1980, p. 56, no. 10, illustrated 
Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Museum of Art; Athens, Georgia Museum of Art; and Charlotte, Mint Museum of Art, Grace Hartigan: Thirty Years of Painting, February - July 1981, no. 3, illustrated
New York, Hollis Taggart Galleries, Pathways and Parallels: Roads to Abstract Expressionism, April - May 2007, p. 65, no. 17, illustrated in color


Robert Saltonstall Mattison, Grace Hartigan: A Painter's World, New York, 1990, p. 13 (text), p. 15, no. 2, illustrated in color, and p. 18 (text)
Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000, New York, 1999, p. 43, no. 51, illustrated in color
Marika Herskovic, Ed., New York School, Abstract Expressionists: Artists Choice by Artists, New Jersey, 2000, p. 175, illustrated in color


This work is in very good condition overall. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at +1 (212) 606-7254 for the report prepared by Terrence Mahon. The canvas is framed in a gilded wood frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

“I have found my ‘subject,’ it concerns that which is vulgar and vital in American modern life, and the possibilities of its transcendence into the beautiful. I do not wish to describe my subject matter, or to reflect upon it – I want to distill it until I have its essence. Then the rawness must be resolved into form and unity; without the ‘rage for order’ how can there be art?” (The artist in a statement for Exh. Cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 12 Americans, 1956, n.p.) Raw, brash, and exploding with vigor across the canvas, Months and Moons is a critical early example from Grace Hartigan’s career that exemplifies her unique brand of abstract expressionism. Upon her arrival in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1945, Hartigan quickly became ensconced within the tight-knit group of New York school painters, which included Milton Avery, Mark Rothko, and Adolph Gottlieb, among others. In 1949, Hartigan travelled with her husband Harry Jackson to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she enrolled in the town’s art school. The present work is one of the first paintings the artist completed upon her return to New York and exhibits the variety of techniques in applying commercial paint to the surface of her canvas. Sprayed, dripped, and painted in swaths of lemon yellow, maroon, stone, black and white, Months and Moons presents a collision of abstracted forms and color that, while providing hints of her Surrealist influences, remains entirely non-representational. At this juncture in her career, Hartigan was struggling financially and lacked the means to acquire new materials. Instead of buying a brand new canvas, Hartigan found one that had been painted on by second-generation Abstract Expressionist artist Bob Goodnough, and then discarded. It was on the reverse of Goodnough’s work that Hartigan executed Months and Moons, priming the cloth and stretching it over elements of shipping crates, which were the cheapest and most accessible options available to her.

Months and Moons was particularly significant to the artist and indeed hung above her desk for many years. The present work not only showcases her painterly bravura, but also reveals her fascination with chance, as evidenced in the black drips of pigment down the side of the canvas. Moreover, Hartigan placed great value on the immediacy of her work, and did not complete any preliminary sketches or drawings, nor did she varnish this piece, feeling that it inhibited the viewer’s experience with the surface. Even today, Months and Moons endures as a vivid and dramatic example from one of Abstract Expressionism’s most individual artists.