Morris Hirshfield. Tiger. 1940

Morris Hirshfield Tiger 1940

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 521 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

Perhaps influenced by the artist's work in textile manufacturing, the highly textured surface of this painting recalls the tactility of fabrics, and its repeating forms, symmetrical composition, thick outlines, and bold colors evoke the patterning and print motifs often seen on textiles. Hirshfield placed the tiger—based on an illustration in a children's book—within an imaginary and highly stylized natural landscape, transforming a simple image into what MoMA's founding director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., called the most "unforgettable animal picture."

Gallery label from 2011.

In 1939 art collector and dealer Sidney Janis stumbled upon a painting by Morris Hirshfield tucked out of view in a New York gallery. He immediately asked to borrow two works by the artist to include in the exhibition Contemporary Unknown American Painters, which he was organizing for The Museum of Modern Art. This was the first public exposure for Hirshfield, a self-taught painter who had only begun making art after retiring at age sixty-five from a career in textile and shoe manufacturing. In 1941, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., MoMA's founding director, acquired Tiger and Girl in a Mirror for the Museum, and he organized a monographic exhibition of Hirshfield's work at MoMA two years later. In its early years the Museum was committed to collecting and exhibiting the work of self-taught artists, exploring and bringing to the public what Barr considered to be a "tributary of one of the main streams of modern taste."

Gallery label from 2011.
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
28 x 39 7/8" (71.1 x 101.3 cm)
Credit
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
328.1941
Copyright
© 2019 Estate of Morris Hirshfield/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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