Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island paintings’

What New Yorkers wore to Coney Island in 1879

August 3, 2020

“Beach Scene,” by Samuel S. Carr, is your portal into what people looked like when they visited a pristine, boardwalk-free Coney Island in 1879.

It won’t be long before placid beach scenes like this are replaced by throngs of city residents looking for fun and adventure, and Sodom by the Sea is born.

An Impressionist paints New York’s sand and surf

August 21, 2017

Impressionist artist Edward Henry Potthast, born in Cincinnati in 1857, never married and had no children.

[“Coney Island,” 1910]

But this devoted painter who made art his entire life (he even died in his studio overlooking Central Park) seemed to find deep delight in depicting scenes of families, especially young mothers and children, enjoying the sand and surf at the city’s seaside pleasure outposts.

[“Summer Day, Brighton Beach” date unknown]

After studying art in Europe, Potthast permanently relocated to Manhattan in the 1890s, working as an illustrator for monthly publications such as Scribner’s and Harper’s while painting and exhibiting his own work.

[“Saturday Afternoon, Rockaway Beach” 1915]

He lived and worked at the Gainsborough, a building of artists’ studios on Central Park South that opened in 1908. “After his move to New York, Potthast made scenes of people enjoying leisurely holidays at the beach and rocky harbor views his specialty,” states this biography.

[“Manhattan Beach” date unknown]

Although he painted scenes of bright sunny skies and sparkling blue water in out-of-state locales in Massachusetts and Maine, “[s]uch was his love of the beach that, when he resided in New York, he would journey out on fair days to Coney Island or Far Rockaway with his easel, paintbox, and a few panels.”

[“Brighton Beach” date unknown]

While Coney Island and the Rockaways have been popular with painters since these resorts began attracting massive crowds in the late 19th century, Potthast’s beach scenes don’t resemble not the tawdry Coney Island of Reginald Marsh or the foreboding Coney of Alfred Henry Maurer.

[“Brighton Beach” date unknown]

Instead, they show the gentle and genteel side of the city’s beaches in the 1910s—vivid with color, activity, and a dreamy innocence that makes one wish they could be instantly transported there, away from the complexities of contemporary life.

[“Rockaway Beach” 1910]

An abstract painter’s kaleidoscopic Brooklyn

April 28, 2014

Born in 1877 in Italy, Joseph Stella came to New York City to study medicine. Instead, he pursued art, earning notoriety in the teens for his Futurist works that show the icons of the modern city in fantastical, kaleidoscopic colors.

Frankstellalunapark

In 1913, Stella turned his eye toward Coney Island. Above is his rendering of Luna Park; below, “Battle of Lights, Coney Island.” Both were painted in 1913.

His style isn’t to everyone’s taste, but his increasingly geometric and abstract work depicts an energetic, industrialized 20th century city.

FrankstellabattleoflightsThis view of the Brooklyn Bridge, below, dates to 1920. “Stella’s depictions of the Brooklyn Bridge feature the diagonal cables that sweep downward forcefully, providing directional energy,” according to the Phillips Collection.

“While these dynamic renderings of the Bridge suggest the excitement and motion of modern life, in Stella’s hands the image of the Bridge also becomes a powerful icon of stability and solidarity.”

Frankstellabrooklynbridge

Moving to Brooklyn in 1917, he found the borough freeing and inspiring.

“Brooklyn gave me a sense of liberation,'” Stella explained. ‘The vast view of her sky in opposition to the narrow one of New York was a relief—and at night, in her solitude, I used to find, intact, the green freedom of my own self.”

A 1930s painter’s coarse, crowded Coney Island

June 6, 2013

Social realist painter Reginald Marsh frequently depicted soldiers, sailors, floozies, burlesque dancers, moviegoers, bums, and other colorful characters that populated New York in the first half of the 20th century.

Reginaldmarshpipandflip

And he had a special fondness for Coney Island—the rougher edges of the boardwalk and beach, that is, filled with garish sideshows (“Pip and Flip,” from 1932, above), skimpy bathing suits, the promise of fun and adventure on a five-cent carnival ride.

Reginaldmarshwonderlandcircus

[Above: “Wonderland Circus, Sideshow Coney Island,” 1930]

“Marsh explained that he was drawn to Coney Island ‘because of the sea, the open air, and the crowds—crowds of people in all directions, without clothing, moving—like the great compositions of Michelangelo and Rubens,'” according to this recent piece on Marsh on the Smithsonian Institution’s blog.

Reginaldmarshsteeplechase

[Above: “Geroge C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park,” 1932]

It’s a part of Coney Island that hasn’t been totally erased with all the new development. You can still catch in glimpses.