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Image Rights
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center


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Wake of the Hurricane
Niles Spencer
unframed 30-1/16 × 36-3/8 inches
oil on canvas
Not on view

Object Details

Paintings (Paintings)
Accession Number
front LL “Niles Spencer-” LR “©”; on top edge of canvas “Wake of the Hurrican Niles Spencer 1951”
Physical Description
geometric simplified buildings
Credit Line
Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, 1953

object label Niles Spencer, Wake of the Hurricane (1951) Walker Art Center, 1998

Because of his interest in form and design as attributes of urban optimism and growth, Niles Spencer’s paintings are commonly associated with those produced by the American Precisionists. His paintings embody the group’s aims to present industrial and architectural subjects in Cubist-derived compositions in which color, tonal, and spatial relationships are perfectly balanced.

Using the title as a clue, one may interpret Wake of the Hurricane as descriptive of the heightened silence that seems to follow momentous natural events. However, Spencer’s interest in the hurricane as subject could have been sparked by the storm season of 1950, during which East Coast residents witnessed the greatest number of hurricanes ever recorded. A particularly vicious storm named “Dog” veered close to Long Island, where Spencer was renovating a house at the time. The artist’s anticipation of a great catastrophe may have contributed to the sense of suppressed excitement in the composition.

Label text for Niles Spencer, Wake of the Hurricane (1951), from the exhibition Selections from the Permanent Collection, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, December 8, 1996 to April 4, 1999.

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center