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Grace Hartigan

Artist Statement


Grace Hartigan was an American painter considered to be an Abstract Expressionist, though she painted in various styles. She was born in Newark, NJ in 1922 and moved to New York City in the beginning of the 40s. Grace joined the downtown artistic community who was composed of well-known names such as Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, William and Elaine de Kooning. Ms. Hartigan is one of the Ninth Street women who revolutionized the modern art world in postwar America.

Her work vacillated between abstraction and representation. She embraced many subjects that were taboo at the time such as people, cliches and snippets from modern life. “I want an art that is not ‘abstract’ and not ‘realistic’”, she wrote at a time when these choices were seen in opposition. (12 Americans Artist Statement, 1956, R & S Sculpture MC Files).

Grace Hartigan used the name George when exhibiting until 1954. She later was quoted as saying that this gesture paid homage to the 19th century women writers like George Eliot. On the practical side, work by men attracted more attention and sold for more money. Scholars have posited that it was also an expression of her belief that identity is multiple.

Her work can be seen in prestigious collection at MOMA, The Art Institute of Chicago, Baltimore Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.