Collection 1950s–1970s

Grace Hartigan. Shinnecock Canal. 1957 445

Oil on canvas, 7' 6 1/2" x 6' 4" (229.8 x 193 cm). Gift of James Thrall Soby. © 2024 Grace Hartigan

Curator, Ann Temkin: Here, you see Hartigan playing with what we often call action painting, in a very strong, aggressive way, attacking that canvas with the brush, with the paint, making the landscape very clearly a place of real dynamic force on the canvas.

What this picture really is about is the blues and the greens and the reds and the whites and the yellows and the blacks, and the way those passages of paint move with each other, fight with each other, dance with each other.

Director, Glenn Lowry: The artist, speaking in 1990:

Artist, Grace Hartigan (archival): Society hasn’t given us anything to believe in. There's no icons. We don't have any saints, we don't have any Madonnas; we don't have any Christs, we don't have any kings, queens, empresses.

So what do we have? We have artists on one hand that say, okay you don't believe in anything; we believe in painting. And artists paint about painting.

Ann Temkin: To paint about painting means to be so caught up in the materials you're using, the tools you're using, reacting to what they can do and what you can do with them, that that's enough. It doesn't mean that there has to be something, an end to which this use of paint, or paintbrushes, or canvasses, is addressed. They are both the means and the end.