Waterfront at Night

  • Alexander A. Maldonado, Waterfront at Night, 1964, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., 1991.96.3

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)

Luce Object 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
Waterfront at Night
On View
Not on view.
21 1/4 x 27 1/4 in. (54.0 x 69.2 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Architecture Exterior – military – U. S. Coast Guard building
  • Cityscape – time – night
  • Architecture – vehicle – airplane
  • Travel – water – boat
  • Waterscape – harbor
  • Figure group
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

More Artworks from the Collection

ca. 1915
oil on canvas
tempera and oil on canvas mounted on plywood
oil on canvas
oil on canvas