Grace Hartigan, Mott Street, 1989. Oil on canvas, 78x72 inches.


Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1922.

In paintings such as Mott Street, Grace Hartigan searches for abstract and figurative meaning in her "inner-" and "outer-world" sources. The fragmentary components, combining figurative line with abstract washes of color, reflect the confusion in society after World War II. Hartigan asks, "Here we had gone through this holocaust and for what? What is there left? What was left was a private conscience, an individual searching his or her feelings, and making a move into an unknown...For the painters the unknown was a blank area or space...We had a very strong sense of being American, of being pioneers again, creative pioneers."

Hartigan never spoke against sexism in the art world. However, until 1951 she signed her work George Hartigan. She claimed this had nothing to do with subverting sex discrimination but rather with a "romantic identification with George Sand and George Eliot." In an interview, Hartigan claims, "I find that the subject of discrimination is only brought up by inferior talents to excuse their own inadequacy as artists."

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