41
41
Grace Hartigan
MONTHS AND MOONS
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 435,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
41
Grace Hartigan
MONTHS AND MOONS
Estimate
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 435,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Grace Hartigan
1922 - 2008
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.
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Provenance

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

Exhibited

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

Literature

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

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.  

 

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York