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1934 Gerald Sargent Foster Born: Westfield, New Jersey 1900 Died: Orangeburg, South Carolina 1987 oil on canvas 22 1/8 x 34 1/8 in. (56.2 x 86.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service 1965.18.9 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

With exhilarating speed yachts sweep across the choppy waters of Long Island Sound, the water foaming white against their hulls. In the foreground, three small Atlantic-class boats lean precariously to stay on the course of their race. In the middle ground, a pair of larger craft catch the wind in bellying spinnakers as they sail in nearly the opposite direction.

Artist Gerald Sargent Foster, an avid yachtsman, often depicted yacht races. He knew every rope and spar of these boats, but minimized such technical details to avoid distracting the eye from the clean geometric shapes that dominate the painting. The artist repeated and overlapped the streamlined hulls and taut sails of the boats, creating an elegant pattern silhouetted against blue sky and water. Yet the geometry is not cool and detached—every line and color speaks of the keen excitement of yacht racing. Even in the teeth of the Depression, this sport of New York's wealthy continued to be popular.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label


Architecture - boat - sailboat

Recreation - sport and play - boating

Recreation - sport and play - racing

Waterscape - boat

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - New Jersey


paint - oil

fabric - canvas