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Waterfront at Night

1964 Alexander A. Maldonado Born: Mazatlan, Mexico 1901 Died: San Francisco, California 1989 oil on canvas 21 1/4 x 27 1/4 in. (54.0 x 69.2 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. 1991.96.3 Not currently on view

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Waterfront at Night
from American Art staff

Luce Center Quote

"Only part of the picture is on the canvas. There are always more buildings underneath, and more sky beyond the top." The artist, quoted in The Ames Gallery of American Folk Art press release

Luce Center Label

Known primarily for his paintings of spaceships and futuristic scenes, Alexander Maldonado endowed this harbor scene with a radiant, visionary quality. Searchlights, a moon, and a brilliant sky illuminate the glowing water. We enter the frame alongside the artist, standing behind him in the bow of a boat in the center foreground. The boat cuts through the choppy waves, while a military plane crosses the sky. On the shore, the buildings are covered with dots of intense color that give them a wonderful texture. Maldonado further emphasized his illumination theme by painting small images of upward-shining spotlights on the frame’s lower corners---a touch that gives the frame a stagelike quality. The setting is almost certainly San Francisco, where the artist lived nearly all his life. He worked in the shipyards until he retired at the age of sixty, when his sister encouraged him to take up painting. (Tom Patterson, Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum: Contemporary Folk Art, 2001)


Architecture Exterior - military - U. S. Coast Guard building

Architecture - vehicle - airplane

Cityscape - time - night

Figure group

Travel - water - boat

Waterscape - harbor


folk art

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Alexander A. Maldonado

Born: Mazatlan, Mexico 1901 Died: San Francisco, California 1989

More works in the collection by
Alexander A. Maldonado