- Grace Hartigan
- Months and Moons
- signed and dated 50; signed twice, titled twice and dated 50 on the stretcher
- oil and collage on canvas
C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2006
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
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
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.