A midcentury painter’s magical nocturne of the Brooklyn Bridge

“Brooklyn Bridge” is a curiously plain title for a painting that shrouds much of the bridge, the river, and the piers around it in a Turner-esque swirl of industrial smoke, thick clouds, and the blue glow of dusk or dawn.

Light illuminates small pockets surrounding the bridge’s iconic towers: a tugboat’s smokestack, a wood building on an empty pier, and a retreating human figure turned away from the East River.

The painter is Frank Mason, an artist of many landscapes, seascapes, and portraits who studied at the Art Students League, where he later taught. “Brooklyn Bridge” was painted in 1950, a pivotal year for the bridge, when trolley service crossing back and forth from Manhattan to Brooklyn was discontinued.

Mason’s primary interest probably isn’t the Bridge’s historical timeline. He seems captivated by the light and color at a certain time of night, and it’s easy to understand why. His evocative nocturne becomes more enchanting every time to you view it.

[Image: frankmason.org]

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7 Responses to “A midcentury painter’s magical nocturne of the Brooklyn Bridge”

  1. countrypaul Says:

    Our city misses industry, but visibly breathes better. Interesting painting. Thank you.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Walking across the bridge is a popular activity, thanks to the lack of industrial smoke.

  2. a Says:

    where is the retreating human figure

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      What looks like a retreating human figure is on the far right, between a building and what looks like a tugboat. The figure is painted in yellow/orange light.

  3. Lady G. Says:

    The colors are really beautiful in this painting. Thank you for always pointing out all these great New York artists.

  4. velovixen Says:

    Hart Crane’s “Brooklyn Bridge” poem captures the awe and majesty of the subject. In it, the bridge becomes a sort of mythological figure.

    This painting conveys the feeling of the forces behind it: what’s behind the screen, if you will. It reminds us of what a marvel of technology it was, and still is. That has its own kind of romance.

    Thank you for sharing the work of another great New York artist.

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