Grace Hartigan Lecture

Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Hartigan

Discover the story behind Grace Hartigan’s The-The #1, 1962.
Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Hartigan

Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Hartigan

Discover the story behind Grace Hartigan’s The-The #1, 1962.

Fast Facts



Born in Newark, NJ in 1922

Moved to NYC in 1946
Studied Mechanical Drafting and worked as a WWII Airplane Factory Draftsman.

Once exhibited under the name George in an attempt to achieve more recognition, but, in 1954, Grace began to use her real name.
Only woman featured in MoMA’s landmark 1956 exhibit, 12 Americans.

The-The #1 (1962) was accessioned into the Plaza Art Collection in 1970.


Which poet collaborated with Hartigan for her 1953 exhibit at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery?
She collaborated with poet Frank O’Hara on a series of 12 paintings called “Oranges” which integrated some of the text from a series of his poems of the same name. 

How did her painting style change in the early 1960s?
She began to create more transparent paintings and watercolor collages.  She explained “I have left the groan and the anguish behind.  The cry has become a song.”

Which two magazines did she appear in the late 1950s?
Hartigan appeared in
Life Magazine in 1957 and in Newsweek in 1959. Life called her “the most celebrated of the young American women painters.”

What did Hartigan focus on as her subject matter in the early 1980s?
In the early 1980s, Hartigan focused on heroines as her subject matter. She created a series of paper dolls based on 1930s movie stars and did a series of "Great Queens and Empresses" including Empress Theodora of Byzantium, Elizabeth I of England, Empress Josephine of France, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Which 1950s pop icons inspired Hartigan’s artwork during the 1960s?
Hartigan was fascinated with the death of Marilyn Monroe and the launch of the Barbie Doll and also used paper doll books of historical figures to find the next subject for her artwork.

Which school was Hartigan named director of in 1965?
Hartigan was faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art and later founded its graduate school of painting, later the Hoffberger School.  The artist worked and exhibited until her death in 2008.