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Gallery Text

An American painter based in New York, Joan Snyder first became known for her “stroke paintings” in the 1970s. Summer Orange, one of these works, pointedly combines different techniques of twentieth-century abstract painting, from staining the canvas to applying pigment with spray cans. A penciled grid — the prototypical structure of modernist painting — organizes the color patches, which also exceed its regular lines. Vertical paint streaks, frozen in mid-drip, heighten the tension between order and disorder, and evoke the work of Jackson Pollock. Although by the 1970s abstract expressionism no longer dominated the New York art world, its larger-than-life progenitors continued to hold sway over younger artists. While Snyder, like the abstract expressionists, saw painting as an extension of personal experience, she also saw it as bound up with feminist struggles for equality in both political and cultural spheres. Painting allowed her to “speak visually,” as she phrased it, in a male-dominated world.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Joan Snyder, American (New Brunswick, NJ born 1940)
Summer Orange
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1200, Modern and Contemporary Art, Mid–century Abstraction I
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Physical Descriptions
Oil, acrylic, spray enamel and pencil on canvas
106.7 x 243.8 cm (42 x 96 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r. side of canvas, in pencil: Joan Snyder Aug 1970
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Michael Walls (GSD, Class of 1961-1963) in memory of his parents, John Alvin James Williamson Walls and Elva Mary Claire Ricciardi Walls
© Joan Snyder
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Carl Belz, Joan Snyder Painter: 1969 to Now, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University (Waltham, 1994), p. 9, ill.

Hayden Herrera, Joan Snyder, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, 2005), pp. 64-65, fig. 65

Greg Stone, Artful Business: 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses (Boston, 2016), p. 34, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

Re-View: S118 European & American Art since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 04/09/2011

32Q: 1200 Mid-Century Abstraction I (Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

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