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Maker(s):Thomas, Alma
Culture:American (1891-1978)
Title:Morning in the Bowl of Night
Date Made:1973
Materials:acrylic on canvas
Place Made:Washington DC
Measurements:frame: 31 1/4 in x 41 1/8 in; 79.4 cm x 104.5 cm; stretcher: 26 in x 36 in; 66 cm x 91.4 cm
Narrative Inscription:  Initialed and dated bottom right front: AWT 73; Inscribed in black on back of canvas, top: 26" x 36" / Morning in the Bowl of Night 73 Alma Thomas Wash, D.C.; Inscribed in middle back of canvas: AT-78 1973; Inscribed on top center of wooden stretcher: TOP / 1973 / AT-78
Accession Number:  SC 2018.23
Credit Line:Purchased with the Hillyer-Tryon-Mather Fund; the Madeleine H. Russell, class of 1937, Fund; the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd, class of 1954, Acquisition Fund for American Art; and the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

Currently on view

abstract geometric shapes painted edge-to-edge in bright and deep blue on light pink background

Label Text:
Alma Thomas was 82 years old when she painted Morning in the Bowl of Night. The painting showcases Thomas’s characteristic and bold approach to abstraction. She often said her paintings were inspired by the patterns and shapes created by sunlight as it filters through leaves and flowers, and by views of Earth as seen from space.

"I was born at the end of the 19th century, horse-and-buggy days, and experienced the phenomenal changes of the 20th-century machine and space age. Today not only can our great scientists send astronauts to and from the moon to photograph its surface and bring back samples of rocks and other materials, but through the medium of color television all can actually see and experience the thrill of these adventures. These phenomena set my creativity in motion."

Here, mosaic-like bright, primary colors and geometric royal blue shapes cover the surface of the painting from edge to edge. The evenly spaced vertical pink lines divide the canvas in thirds and suggest a triptych. Attesting to Thomas’s interest in Islamic art, the title refers to a verse attributed to the Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam (1048–1131) as translated into English in 1859:

“Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight”

abstract; mosaics

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