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Grace Hartigan: Changing the Narrative

Grace Hartigan - Grand Street Brides - 1954 - oil on canvas - 72 9/16 × 102 3/8 inches - Whitney Museum of American Art (click photo for larger image)A “Second-Generation” Abstract Expressionist, Grace Hartigan (1922-2008), developed a new form of painting based on bold gesture and experimental brushwork. She was highly regarded for her commitment to art, as well as for a hard-bitten toughness, embodied in her paintings. 

Although Hartigan built her early career upon complete abstraction, in 1952 she began incorporating recognizable motifs and characters from an array of sources into her art. This change was seen as a betrayal by some of her “first generation” colleagues—a rather paradoxical reaction from artists who struggled for the right to choose for themselves how and what to paint.

Hartigan’s inclusion of certain objects in her paintings also have identified her work as a precursor to Pop Art. However, she thoroughly disliked the mass manufacturing that movement embraced and celebrated. 

Hartigan moved between figuration and abstraction with ease throughout her long career. Indeed, her best known works combine the two. You can read more about here right here on What About Art?.

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