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Skating in Central Park

1934 Agnes Tait Born: New York, New York 1894 Died: Santa Fe, New Mexico 1981 oil on canvas 33 3/4 x 48 in. (85.8 x 121.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.15 Smithsonian American Art Museum
1st Floor, South Wing


Exhibition Label

Agnes Tait had long wanted to make a large, festive painting of winter revelers in Central Park, but without a patron she could not take on this project. When the Public Works of Art Project gave her support in the winter of 1933–1934, the artist had her opportunity. As skaters and sledders flocked to the frozen lake and snowy slopes of Central Park, Tait joined them to sketch the winter fun. Then she retreated to her studio to make her painting.

Tait showed the park in late afternoon as the Manhattan sky began to blush and the street lamps to glow, but skating and sledding were still in full swing. Once she had the landscape painted, Tait added figures in groups to create a colorful pattern against the snow and ice. The dark branches of the bare trees make a more subtle design against the white snow and mist and the golden sky. Around the ends of tree branches and in patches along the snowbanks, Tait painted areas of gray into which she drew snow-covered twigs and grasses by scraping away the gray paint with the end of her paintbrush.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Keywords

Architecture Exterior - commercial - skyscraper

Cityscape - New York New York

Cityscape - season - winter

Figure(s) in exterior - park

Landscape - park - Central Park

Recreation - sport and play - skating

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - New York City

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Agnes Tait

Born: New York, New York 1894 Died: Santa Fe, New Mexico 1981

More works in the collection by
Agnes Tait