Baseball at Night

Morris Kantor, Baseball at Night, 1934, oil on linen, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Morris Kantor, 1976.146.18
Copied Morris Kantor, Baseball at Night, 1934, oil on linen, 3747 14 in. (94.0120.0 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Morris Kantor, 1976.146.18

Artwork Details

Baseball at Night
3747 14 in. (94.0120.0 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Morris Kantor
Mediums Description
oil on linen
  • Figure group
  • Landscape — time — night
  • Occupation — sport — referee
  • Occupation — sport — baseball
Object Number

Artwork Description

Stadium lighting was still rare in 1934 when artist Morris Kantor saw this night baseball game in West Nyack, New York. The artist strove to convey in his painting "the panoramic spectacle of the field, the surrounding landscape, the people, the players, and the nocturnal atmosphere." Kantor showed the field proportionately smaller than it actually was to fit all this into his painting, along with a radio booth, flags waving against the night sky, and a runner taking his lead off first base. Major league baseball would not begin night games until 1935. However, in the early thirties Minor league, Negro League, and exhibition stadiums like this one used portable or permanent lighting for night games that would draw crowds of people who worked during the day.

The Sports Centre at the Clarkstown Country Club, in West Nyack was a versatile venue that hosted baseball games played by minor league teams, barnstorming professionals, local semipro groups of firemen and policemen, and Country Club members. Catering to the Depression-era thirst for varied, affordable entertainment, the Centre also staged boxing and wrestling matches. Eccentric proprietors Pierre A. Bernard and his wife, Blanche de Vries, even maintained a herd of performing elephants.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Gallery Label
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Publication Label

The New Deal ushered in a heady time for artists in America in the 1930s. Through President Franklin Roosevelt's programs, the federal government paid artists to paint and sculpt, urging them to look to the nation's land and people for their subjects. For the next decade — until World War II brought support to a halt — the country's artists captured the beauty of the countryside, the industry of America's working people, and the sense of community shared in towns large and small in spite of the Great Depression. Many of these paintings were created in 1934 for a pilot program designed to put artists to works; others were done under the auspices of the WPA that followed. The thousands of paintings, sculptures, and murals placed in schools, post offices, and other public buildings stand as a testimony to the resilience of Americans during one of the most difficult periods of our history.

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2015.

Related Books

1934: A New Deal for Artists
During the Great Depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people,” initiating government programs to foster economic recovery. Roosevelt’s pledge to help “the forgotten man” also embraced America’s artists. The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) enlisted artists to capture “the American Scene” in works of art that would embellish public buildings across the country. Although it lasted less than one year, from December 1933 to June 1934, the PWAP provided employment for thousands of artists, giving them an important role in the country’s recovery. Their legacy, captured in more than fifteen thousand artworks, helped “the American Scene” become America seen.