Grace Hartigan was born in Newark, NJ and began her career in 1942 as a draftsperson while studying art with painter Isaac Lane Muse. After moving to New York City in 1946 she became friends with artists Milton Avery, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell and Larry Rivers among many others associated with the New York School. Her painting career was launched by her inclusion in the infamous “New Talent” exhibition at Kootz Gallery, curated by the influential art historians Clement Greenberg and Meyer Shapiro. The following year she was selected for the seminal “9th Street Show,” along with Pollock, Kline, de Kooning and others.
During the 50s Hartigan was featured in seven gallery exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy Gallery. She was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s pivotal exhibition “Twelve Americans” in 1956 and the traveling international exhibition “The New American Paintings,” 1958-9. During this period through legendary director Alfred Barr, MoMA acquired her painting Persian Jacket and the Whitney Museum of American Art purchased Grand Street Brides.
In 1960 Hartigan moved to Baltimore and in 1967 became the director of the Hoffberger Graduate School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Moving beyond pure abstraction, her later works examine popular culture, art history, visual culture and personal biography while maintaining the gesture and techniques of Abstract Expressionism to formulate a unique style all her own.
She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Life Time Achievement Award, Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY (2002); Governors Award in Baltimore, MD (2006) and honorary degrees from Goucher College, Lafayette College, Maryland Institute College of Art, Moore College, Towson State University and Dickinson College.
Her work is in the permanent collection of many museums including Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Hirshhorn Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; M.I.T., Boston, MA;
Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; St. Louis Art Museum, MO; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.