Haunting desolation on South Street in the 1930s

South Street was a still and empty place of tenement dwellers overshadowed by the Brooklyn Bridge in “South Street Stoop,” painted in 1935 by O. Louis Guglielmi.


“[Guglielmi’s] dreamlike works were critical commentaries on the social injustices of capitalism,” states Bruce Weber, author of Paintings in New York.

“The son of Italian immigrants, Guglielmi had grown up in Harlem and experienced  his own financial difficulties in the early 1930s and applied for federal relief. Beginning in 1935, he received a regular government paycheck as a member of the easel division of the Works Progress Administration.”

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10 Responses to “Haunting desolation on South Street in the 1930s”

  1. Shake NooR Says:

    Dreamlike …

  2. Jon Phillips Says:

    Gugliemi seems to have been under the influence of his contemporary Giorgio De Chirico whose works two decades earlier such as the “Enigma of the Hour” and empty streetscapes such as “gare Monteparnesse the Melancholy of Departure,” were present at the MoMA and Met respectively and would have provided an identity for and expat Italian. The class disparity that Weber alludes to may have been secondary to the identification with alienation. And the contrast between the filigree of this Brooklyn Bridge and the vital brutality of Joseph Stella’s rendition notable.

    The ionic columns on the docks of the South Street Seaport or Lower East Side are the most surreal element of the tableau, interesting if it was in fact a reference to a leave behind of the earlier era when mansions still dotted this stretch at least along the heights. Italians of Guliemi’s generation populated not Harlem proper, but what became known as Spanish Harlem up at 114th Street and the East Side.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Alienation is certainly the theme here. I had never seen Guglielmi’s work until this weekend and knew nothing about him. Thanks for the info.
    This painting reminds me of one of Hopper’s:

  4. Carol Hunt Says:

    10/26/2015 Dear Ephemeral: I, Carol Hunt, aka. Sister Carol Hunt aka. Sister Carol L. Sugarcookie would like to be employed as the art teacher and the writing teacher at Richard R. Green High School of Teaching  The reason I am telling you this is because I would like to dress in a corset, a hat and a hoop skirt everyday in the classes I am given….I do not have a phone; but, I, Carol am going to be on that phone when the student does not pay attention to me.  I am going to be thrilled to be teaching with Azelea and Ingrid Bundschen and Mark Schwartz of the Door.  So, I am going to you business.  Send this email please to Richard R. Green HS and my mailing address is Carol Hunt 1102 Main Street Niagara Falls, NY  14301.  Judy Wallace and Dr. Ian Goldberg are friends of mine and I will be there around November 3, 2015. Thank you. Sister Carol Hunt aka. Sister Carol L. Sugarcookie

  5. wack60585 Says:

    Reblogged this on wack60585.

  6. Rich T Says:

    The lady in red appears to be hovering.

    • Jon Phillips Says:

      The little girl is suspended in the air playing hop-scotch.

      As a child the familiar chalk diagrams of the hopscotch grid would appear on the sidewalks and asphalt of every neighborhood where children were to be found.

  7. Dreams and illusions on 1930s Chambers Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Guglielmi painting of a child playing hopscotch beside a stoop on South Street has a similar foreboding […]

  8. Bob Says:

    Compare with his painting Wedding: https://curiator.com/art/osvaldo-louis-guglielmi/wedding

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