Grace Hartigan

Robert Saltonstall Mattison, Author Hudson Hills Press $50 (156p) ISBN 978-1-55595-041-5
An ever-changing artist who graduated from the New York School's abstract expressionism, Grace Hartigan went on to invent and explore a succession of personal idioms. From her joyous, extroverted 1950s abstractions, she jumped to procreative and psychosexual imagery in the '60s. During the next decade, coping with alcoholism, her husband's mental illness and her attempted suicide, she did chaotic paintings whose split images and obsessively crowded surfaces dealt with issues of life and death, sin and salvation. The '80s brought the somber, self-aware figures of her Saints and Martyrs series and the imaginary heroes of the Paper Doll series, hidden behind rivulets of dripping paint. A sense of menace lurks behind the kitsch and fun of her jazzy, audacious American Places series, which roves from Malibu to Chicago . Mattison, associate professor at Lafayette College, Pa., writes with deep feeling and insight about an underrated artist whose associates included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Frank O'Hara. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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