Bright Light at Russell’s Corners

Media - 1976.121 - SAAM-1976.121_2 - 123041
Copied George Ault, Bright Light at Russell's Corners, 1946, oil on canvas, 19 5825 in. (49.963.4 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Lawrence, 1976.121
Free to use

Artwork Details

Bright Light at Russell’s Corners
19 5825 in. (49.963.4 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Lawrence
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape — road
  • Landscape — time — night
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — house
  • Architecture Exterior — science — power lines
  • Landscape — New York — Woodstock
  • Architecture Exterior — farm — barn
Object Number

Artwork Description

The radiant light at Russell’s Corners forms the center of the mysterious world Ault painted there. His wife Louise chose a quotation from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to describe her husband: “Unless there be chaos within, no dancing star is born.”

To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America, 2011

Luce Center Label

George Ault made a series of paintings of Russell's Corners in Woodstock, New York. These images of lonely farm buildings symbolized traditional farm life and reflected Ault's desire to isolate himself from others (Louise Ault, Artist in Woodstock, 1978). He often incorporated religious imagery into his works, and here, a single bright light marks the center of a cross formed by the power lines (Lubowsky, George Ault, 1988). But the bleak landscape and vast expanse of darkness threaten to overwhelm, and this painting perhaps reflects the artist's depressed state of mind.