In this nighttime New York scene, the empty street rushes across the composition; the orbs of two streetlights draw the viewer’s eye down the street. The long façade of the building on the right emphasizes the angle of the street, its rows of windows dark. Behind it, a handful of windows are illuminated in the two buildings beyond. This is contrasted by a small slice of the building on the left, from which a sign juts out, cast in shadow and illegible in the dark.
There is a dreamlike quality to George Ault’s nocturnes, which span his career—the earliest from 1918; the last from 1948, the year of his death—and represent a significant part of his oeuvre. These night scenes of the city and the country become even more surreal just three years later in Sullivan Street, Abstraction, 1924, Walker Art Center and some 20 years later New Moon, New York, 1945, Museum of Modern Art, reflecting his interest in the surrealist artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978).
Louise Ault, the Artist’s widow, until 1951;
Hollister Sturges, Jr., New York, 1951-1993(?);
[Hirschl & Adler, Galleries, New York];
Private Collection, 1993-2015;
[James Reinish & Associates, Inc., New York];
Probably: Provincetown. Austin Dunham’s Sea Chest. Exhibition of Water Colors, Oil and Monotypes by George C. Ault. August 8-16, 1922, “Oils” cat. no. 1, New York Night.
New York. Bourgeois Galleries. Annual Exhibition of American Painters and Sculptors. March-April 1923, cat. no. 1, New York Night.
Charlotte, NC. The Mint Museum of Art. George C. Ault: American Artist, 1891-1948. October 15-November 15, 1950.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. George Ault: Nocturnes. December 7, 1973-January 6, 1974, cat. no. 18.
Oxford, England. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, University of Oxford. America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper, March 23-July 22, 2018.
Corpus Christi. The Art Museum of South Texas. Masterpieces of American Modernism from the Vilcek Collection of American Art. September 13, 2018-January 6, 2019.
Tulsa. Philbrook Museum of Art. Making Modern America. February 10-May 26, 2019.
Correspondence in George Ault Papers, Reel D247, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Louise Ault, “Ault Estate, Record of Works of Art by George C. Ault,” as “New York Night No. 2. Oil, produced 1927, 20 x 14. Sold: Hollister Sturges, Woodstock, N.Y. 200.00” George Ault Papers, Reel 1927, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Jones, Jonathan. “America’s Cool Modernism review – souful struggles against a skyscraping new world,” The Guardian, March 22, 2018.