Posts Tagged ‘New York in 1916’

Beauty and vitality at the Columbus Avenue El

February 10, 2014

Gifford Beal may not be as well-known as fellow Ashcan School artists John Sloan and William Glackens. But that makes discovering Beal’s enchanting impressionistic paintings such a joy.

“Elevated, Columbus Avenue, New York” was completed in 1916, and it’s likely an El stop near Beal’s own apartment, states the New Britain Museum of Art.

Bealcolumbusaveel

“Beal’s impressionistic rendering does indeed capture the ceaseless movement that invigorates city life,” states the museum website.

“His figures are carefully arranged dabs of color that lack precise detailing. Yet within this blur of activity, Beal offers small vignettes that humanize the anonymous crowd: a woman posts a letter, a top-hatted gentleman steadies his friend on the slippery walkway, a worker clears snow with a broom.”

“Whereas some artists of the day, such as the members of the Ashcan School, focused on the poverty and alienation that could be found within the city, Beal saw the beauty and vitality that existed there as well.”

A snapshot of tenement life

November 18, 2009

An unknown photographer captured this New York mother and her two babies in an old-law tenement apartment in 1916. 

Like most flats in old-law tenements (so named because they predate “new” turn-of-the-century laws mandating better living conditions per apartment), it’s dark, squalid, and unventilated.

That window probably looks out onto a narrow courtyard, if not just another room in the same apartment.