Grace Hartigan

American, 1922 - 2008

Grace Hartigan was a leading Abstract Expressionist painter known for combining gestural abstraction with imagery derived from art history and popular culture. In one of her best-known works The Oranges, No. 1 (Black Crows) (1952), Hartigan used a Frank O’Hara poem as a catalyst for her own creative process. “Somehow, in painting, I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos,” she once explained.

Born on March 28, 1922, in Newark, NJ, she had a child as a teenager and studied mechanical draftsmanship at the Newark College of Engineering during World War II. After separating from her husband, she moved to the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York in 1945. Settled in the city, Hartigan quickly immersed herself in the milieu of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Adolph Gottlieb. In 1950, Clement Greenberg and Meyer Schapiro selected the artist to be included in the “New Talent” exhibition at Samuel Kootz Gallery.

Over the following decade, Hartigan began incorporating imagery into her work, culling both from painting history and her surroundings. Marrying her fourth husband the collector and doctor Winston Price in 1960, Hartigan relocated to Baltimore where her new husband taught at John Hopkins University. Though her work fell from the public eye, she continued to paint and began teaching at the MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1965. The artist died on November 15, 2008 in Baltimore, MD.

Today, Hartigan’s works are held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others.

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