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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Night Watch

Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation

Night Watch


Lee Krasner

American, 1908 - 1984

Lee Krasner’s Night Watch is part of a body of work often referred to as her ‘Night Journeys’, as Krasner, then suffering from insomnia, painted almost exclusively at night. Though previously known for her dramatic use of color, Night Watch, along with other works made in the early 1960s, uses a reduced palette of black, ochre, and creamy white, with gray accents. From roughly 1959 to 1963, Krasner was exploring new artistic terrain as well as the depths of her own psyche, processing recent experiences of loss and grief. The title Night Watch alludes to one of Rembrandt’s celebrated paintings of a militia company made in 1642. It is a singular composition utilizing piercing eyes as a recurring motif, an allusion to the militia’s duty of keeping watch as well as a self-referential proclamation. In the words of the artist, “Painting is not separate from life. It is one.”
Oil on canvas
70 × 99 1/4 in. (177.8 × 252.1 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
Provenance: [Howard Wise Gallery, New York]; [Pace Gallery, New York]; [Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Ontario]; [Robert Miller Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Jane and Richard Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1981
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - Apr. 1, 1984. Text by Bruce Guenther and Barbara Johns. Cat. no. 29, pp. 42-43.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Elles: SAM: Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists, Oct. 6, 2012 - Feb. 17, 2013.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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