Grace Hartigan (1922-2008) studied with Isaac Lane Muse in New York (1942-1947); by 1949, after spending a year in Mexico, she returned to New York and began to paint abstractly. She was quickly accepted into a circle that included Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb, and Willem de Kooning, and exhibited with them in the 9th Street Show. She was included in Talent: 1950, organized by Meyer Schapiro and Clement Greenberg for the Kootz Gallery, and in 1951 she held the first of seven exhibitions with Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Hartigan’s work has been featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual Exhibition (1955), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1957), and Documenta (1959).
Hartigan was a maverick: until 1953 she signed her paintings as George Hartigan, both in homage to George Sand and George Eliot, and to make a point about the sexism of the art world. Stylistically restless, she shifted between representation and abstraction. Hartigan made several screenprints for the magazine View, and collaborated with the poet James Schuyler on Salute, 1960, published by Tiber Press. That same year, at the suggestion of Larry Rivers, she began working at ULAE, creating four black-and-white lithographs inspired by the Barbara Guest poem “The Hero Leaves His Ship.” Following her only color lithograph, Pallas Athene (1961), Hartigan again took Guest’s work as her point of departure for the Archaics Series, published in 1966.