Posts Tagged ‘Greenwich Village painters’

A lawyer-turned-artist’s moody Greenwich Village

December 3, 2018

Until recently, I’d never heard of Greenwich Village painter Anthony Springer. But I’ve found myself captivated by his colorful, textural images of a less dense, less luxurious Village and other surrounding neighborhoods.

Born in 1928, Springer, a native New Yorker, worked as a lawyer before deciding to make painting his vocation at the age of 40, according to friend and fellow artist Robert Holden in 2013 on his blog, Painting Life Stories.

“Tony was a wonderful, quietly mysterious kind of guy, who played poker all night long, slept until the late morning, and then grabbed his half-box French easel and 16×20 inch stretched linen canvas to go paint the narrow side streets of the Village in the dusty afternoon light, a habit he kept up for 20 years or more,” wrote Holden.

When he died in 1995, Springer left behind “hundreds of his beautiful, moody gray cityscapes,” he wrote.

More than two decades or so have passed since Springer’s death, and his evocative work serves as a reminder of the very different pre-2000s Greenwich Village.

Springer’s “Meatpacking District,” at top, takes us to the Belgian block intersection of Greenwich and Gansevoort Streets.

When Springer painted it, this was a daytime corner of trucks, garbage carts, and pigeons before it became an pricey restaurant playground.

His image of a gas station amid tenements is a reminder that downtown used to actually have gas stations. Could this be the one Eighth and Greenwich Avenues?

“Downtown Street” shows a quiet scene of a narrow side street and empty sidewalks. Maybe Mercer Street, or Greene Street?

The last image, “Townhouses and Naked Trees,” feels appropriate for the current season with winter approaching. Hmm, Tenth Street?

[First and last images: Doyle; second and third images: mutualart]

The Greenwich Village vision of artist Alfred Mira

September 28, 2015

Alfred S. Mira and his realistic, gritty, intimate Greenwich Village street scenes should be better known.

[“Seventh Avenue, Greenwich Village”]

Alfredmiraseventhavenue

Born in 1900 in Italy to a carpenter father, he left school and began working for an interior decorator, dreaming of going to art school but without the 50 cents a day it cost to attend.

[“Washington Square Rally,” 1942]

Alfredmirawashingtonsquarerally

He did make a career out of painting though; he listed his address as East 8th Street and his occupation as painter in the 1940 census. And he sold his work at the Washington Square outdoor art exhibit, a heralded event decades ago.

[“The El, View of Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street,” 1940]

Alfredmiratheel6thave8thstreet

Though he painted scenes from all over the city, Mira focused his work on the sites and monuments of Greenwich Village: the Washington Arch, MacDougal Street, and Seventh Avenue South.

His inspiration seems to come from the urban realists who made a name for themselves in the early 1900s, such as George Bellows and George Luks.

[Title unknown, but there’s Jefferson Market in the background]

Alfredmiravillagejeffersonmarket

But his style is his own: honest, sometimes gritty, sometimes dreamy, and deeply atmospheric—a true street artist who captured the moods of the city.

[“Summer Morning”—anyone know what intersection this is?]

Alfredmirasummermorning

Alfredmiraselfportrait1934“Mira painted angled, bird’s eye viewpoints, thereby creating what one critic categorized as ‘moving camera eye impressions,’” explains gallery Questroyal Fine Art LLC.

He died in 1980 or 1981, depending on the source, and his work still inspires. It also still sells, with several paintings going for thousands of dollars at top auction houses.

[Self portrait, 1934]

Hanging laundry on a New York tenement roof

April 6, 2015

John Sloan sure had a thing for painting rooftops.

“Red Kimono on the Roof,” from 1912, is just one of many Sloan paintings depicting the view from a roof, or featuring women hanging laundry or catching a breeze from the top of a tenement.

Redkimonojohnsloan

“This unglorified glimpse of a woman hanging laundry was probably painted from Sloan’s studio window,” states the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s website.

Where in the city is this row of brick buildings?

January 9, 2013

When Washington Square North resident Edward Hopper finished this strangely haunting painting of simple low-rise buildings in 1930, it was recorded in his ledger as “Seventh Avenue Shops.”

Hopperearlysundaymorning

But could this really be on Seventh Avenue? Not according to a 2007 report from the Greenwich Village Historical Society, which explains that the distinctive cornices, barber shop pole, fire hydrant, and morning shadows place the inspiration not on Seventh Avenue but at 231-235 Bleecker Street, just west of Carmine Street.

BleeckerstreetnymagazineAdding to the mystery is that Hopper later changed the name of the painting to “Early Sunday Morning,” which it’s still known by today.

[Photo comparison published in New York magazine, courtesy of the Whitney Museum of Art, John Carbonella]

Many of Hopper’s other works—deceptively simple, solitary, often people-free city corners and streets—have been traced to specific locations that still stand.

Maybe Hopper did draw his inspiration from this slice of Bleecker Street, or perhaps it’s a composite of details from several buildings.

Jeremiah at Vanishing New York has an intriguing take on the “Early Sunday Morning,” as well as a fascinating look at where Hopper’s “Nighthawks” might have been.

Looking into Edward Hopper’s “Night Windows”

December 6, 2010

Most of us have found ourselves on either end of this kind of scenario—painted in 1928 by Greenwich Village resident Hopper.

The Whitney has an exhibition of Edward Hopper paintings and prints, as well as those of his contemporaries like Martin Lewis and Reginald Marsh. It runs through April 2011.