Collection Artwork
A blue and green abstract artwork with pink, black, and yellow features that appear plant-like or reference other elements found in nature on an oddly shaped canvas.
Franklin Williams (born Utah, 1940)
A Beautiful Dark Moment
1973
acrylic paint, twine, yarn, painted fabric, fabric, canvas, cotton batting
object size: 40 x 48 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation
2017.50.4
Inscribed in ink, verso, upper left: A BEAUTIFUL DARK / MOMENT
Signed, dated and inscribed in ink, verso, starting upper right: Franklin Williams / 1973 / 40" x 48"

Object Label

Franklin Williams’s art practice subverts mainstream mid- to late twentieth-century art trends. In the 1960s and 1970s, when many contemporary abstract painters were concerned with hard lines and edges and embracing the physical urgency of art making, Williams instead focused on organic shapes and patterns by means of labor-intensive techniques such as stitching and painting with fine brushes. A Beautiful Dark Moment is composed of abstracted anatomical elements that don’t read as specifically animal- or plant-like, but as both simultaneously. Viewers may identify phallic, vaginal, and breast-like shapes that, upon second glance, transform into plants and insects. The leaf-like patterns reference nature, and the luminous yellow crescents contrasted against the deep green and blue evoke the night, as the title suggests. Williams’s work, with these earthy suggestions, demonstrates how easily our minds conflate nature and the human form.
–Caroline Coxe ’20

From the exhibition: Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality (May 30 – August 23, 2020)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Tang Collective Catalog


Franklin Williams started out making Abstract Expressionist paintings while in school at California College of Arts and Crafts in the 1960s. Although Abstract Expressionism was fashionable at the time, a professor discovered some unique, small patterned drawings that Williams made on his own time and declared, “this is who you are—be who you are.” The pair then threw all of Williams’s old paintings off the Golden Gate Bridge so that he could start anew. He made A Beautiful Dark Moment about a decade later. The leaf-like patterns reference nature, and the luminous yellow crescents against the deep green and blue evoke the night, as the title suggests. The abstract shapes don’t read as specifically human- or plant-like, but as both simultaneously, demonstrating how easily our minds conflate nature and the human form.

Learn more

Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality
Exhibition
i
Pattern by Fiona McLaughlin ’20
Inspired by the exhibition Opener 28 - Erika Verzutti: Mineral
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.