H. C. Westermann. The Nightbird. 1978

H. C. Westermann The Nightbird 1978

  • Not on view

The dark nautical imagery that pervades Westermann's work is a product of his experiences as a marine during World War II and the Korean War. In these works, ships are caught in morbid and dismal scenes executed in cartoonlike line. Boats seemingly flung out of the water, trapped in ice, or arriving by night combine with terse environments of blazing color, glacial whiteness, and darkened skies. While seemingly desolate and foreboding, these images have a dark humor regarding life's inevitable pitfalls.

Gallery label from Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing, March 26–July 7, 2008.
Ink and watercolor on paper
30 1/2 x 22" (77.5 x 55.9 cm)
Committee on Drawings Funds
Object number
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].