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Modern Cycle

1967 Grace Hartigan Born: Newark, New Jersey 1922 Died: Timonium, Maryland 2008 oil on canvas 78 1/2 x 108 1/2 in. (199.4 x 275.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection 1980.137.33 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

Engine parts, a headlight, gas tank, and handle bars are intermingled with a zippered motorcycle jacket sleeve, a rider, women’s legs, and other less identifiable forms in Modern Cycle. Hartigan, then a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, explained her choice of subject: “My male students at the time were obsessed with motorcycles—one even kept his in his studio—and out of sheer self-preservation I bought a poster of Brando on a bike and Peter Fonda, some cycle magazines, pinned them on my painting wall and Modern Cycle was the result. It is, incidentally, one of my favorite paintings.”

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008

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painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas