Posts Tagged ‘New York City artists’

A Gilded Age painter’s springtime New York

May 23, 2016

I used to think that Frederick Childe Hassam’s most evocative paintings were his moody, poetic winter scenes of turn of the century New York.

HassamLowerFifthAvenue1890

But his Impressionist renderings of Manhattan in springtime—lush parks, rainy blue twilight, and exaggerated pastel skies—are just as striking.

Hassamfifthavenuenocturne1895

“Lower Fifth Avenue,” at top, depicts the lights and shadows of what appears to be an early spring day in 1890, warm enough to do without overcoats and for leaves to appear on fledgling trees.

Hassamunionsquarespring1896

“New York is the most beautiful city in the world,” Hassam reportedly said, citing Fifth Avenue as the city’s loveliest street. “Fifth Avenue Nocturne,” from 1895, gives us sidewalks slicked with rain and illuminated by electric lights.

Union Square is an oasis of lush greenery amid the backdrop of a gray city in 1896’s “Union Square in Spring.”

Hassamwashingtonsquarearch1890

The stretch of Fifth Avenue from Madison Square to Washington Square was Hassam’s milieu; no surprise, as he had studios at Fifth and 17th and 95 Fifth Avenue in the 1880s and 1890s.

“Washington Arch, Spring,” from 1890, shows what Hassam called “humanity in motion,” which he considered his primary subject and theme.

A 1930s painter’s stark, austere New York City

August 2, 2012

“I attempt to capture the layers and depth of the city’s environment, not paint it brick by brick,” stated painter Francis Criss.

The cleanness of his work is in stark contrast to Depression-era New York’s poverty and uncertainty.

Both City Landscape (1934), above, and Astor Place (1932), below, have the sharply defined geometric forms and austere, almost sanitized look characteristic of the Precisionist painters.

The Precisionists emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, and they focused on the urban landscapes of a growing, industrialized nation.

His style won’t resonate with everyone. But his New York street scenes—one of two nuns standing in front of today’s Kmart, the other of the Port Authority Building rising on lower Eighth Avenue—are instantly recognizable 80 years later.

Under an arch in Astoria at midnight, 1930

May 21, 2012

Martin Lewis titled this drypoint etching Arch, Midnight. The people under the arch don’t look like they’re up to much good.

He reportedly considered two alternate titles, “Archway, Midnight” and “The Arch Over the Street, Astoria.”

Does anyone know where exactly this dark, shadowy underpass is in Astoria, and if it still exists?

A twilight shadow dance on Park Avenue

July 15, 2011

Women stroll down Park Avenue at 34th Street—the evening sun illuminating their sheer dresses—in Martin Lewis’ 1930 drypoint print “Shadow Dance.”

It’s a scene played out on city streets every warm summer night.

And hey, if you have $50,000, this lovely example of Lewis’ work can hang in your home.

“Under Brooklyn Bridge” in 1931

September 21, 2010

This drypoint etching by William C. McNulty—described as a “romantic-realist” in a 1963 obituary in The New York Times—depicts an industrial city under stormy skies.

A view of nighttime New York in the 1920s

August 18, 2010

Another enchanting drypoint etching by Martin Lewis, titled “Fifth Avenue Bridge.” It dates to 1928.

Was there once a Fifth Avenue Bridge? Looks more like a temporary walkway, but at what cross street is a mystery.

Two in the morning in 1932

May 5, 2010

Three women in cloche hats and clingy dresses cross a desolate Greenwich Village street in Martin Lewis’ “2 a.m.”

Did sanitation workers really used to hose down the streets at night? 

Rainy, moody afternoons on Madison Square

January 26, 2010

At left, Italian-American painter Alessandro Guaccimanni depicts well-dressed men and women, colorful flowers, and a rain-slicked street beside Madison Square Park in 1893.

Madison Square was ultrafashionable in Gilded Age New York City. The best-known structure on the Square was Madison Square Garden; the Flatiron Building won’t be constructed for another nine years.

This second painting depicts Fifth Avenue and 24th Street circa 1894.

Who was Guaccimanni, and what was his fascination with Madison Square? His paintings are haunting and moody, but there’s no biographical info on him to be found.