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Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York's Rivers, 1900-1940

October 12, 2013 - January 17, 2014


Billowing smoke, booming industry, noble bridges, and an epic waterfront are the landscape of New York changing and growing in the first 40 years of the 20th century. Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York's Rivers, 1900-1940 at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, October 12, 2013 to January 17, 2014, showed the convulsive changes in the New York metropolis and its rivers that are embraced in modern paintings from Robert Henri to Georgia O'Keeffe. Industrial Sublime, organized by the Hudson River Museum, is traveling to the Norton Museum of Art March 20 - June 22, 2014. (right: George Ault (1891 - 1948), From Brooklyn Heights, c.1925-1928, Oil on canvas; 30 x 20 inches. Collection of the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey. Purchase 1928 The General Fund, 28.1802)

Industrial Sublime takes a first time look at the links between American Modernism and Hudson River School painting. The ideals expressed in thousands of Hudson River School canvases from the 1820s through the turn of the century expressed a vision to which many artists clung decades after great physical change to the region's landscape. Other artists, though, some from the Ashcan School, eagerly turned towards the Machine Age, and painted, not majestic mountain ranges, but arching bridges, swinging cranes, and streamlined ocean liners moving in and out of the city's harbor. In hailing the new, these artists created a fresh vocabulary for their century.

Industrial Sublime includes over 70 works from museums around the country, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; High Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; The New-York Historical Society; the Phillips Collection; Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Norton Museum of Art; and, the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The exhibition is co-curated by Kirsten M. Jensen, Curator, and Bartholomew F. Bland, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hudson River Museum. Industrial Sublime is accompanied by a fully illustrated companion catalogue. The exhibition and its catalogue are the fifth in the Hudson River Museum's series The Visitor in the Landscape. Essayists for the publication include Wendy Greenhouse, co-author of Chicago Modern 1893-1945: Pursuit of the New; Katherine E. Manthorne, Professor of Modern Art of the Americas, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Ellen E. Roberts, Harold and Anne Berkley Smith Curator of American Art, Norton Museum of Art; and, Kirsten Jensen and Bartholomew Bland.

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue have been made possible by a generous grant from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc. The exhibition catalogue is supported, in part, by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund and is co-published by the Hudson River Museum and Empire State Editions, an imprint of Fordham University Press.

To view the wall panel texts for the exhibition, please click here for "Industrial Sublime," here for"The City, Many Views," here for "The City in the Thirties," here for "The Contested Waterfront" and here for "The 'New' New York."

To view an illustrated 8-page display for the exhibition, containing an introduction by Katherine E. Manthorne, Professor of Modern Art of the Americas, Graduate Center, City University of New York, please click here.

To view the 102-page catalogue for the exhibition, please click here.


(above: Oscar Bluemner (1867 - 1938), Harlem River, 1912, Watercolor on paper; 14 x 20 inches. Collection of Artis - Naples, The Baker Museum. Museum Purchase, 2000.15.012)


(above: John Noble (1913 - 1983), The Building of Tidewater, c.1937, Oil on canvas; 38 x 50 1/4 inches. The Noble Maritime Collection, Staten Island, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold G. Tucker)


To view additional images of artworks in the exhibition, please click here.


Object labels for the exhibition


Kurt Albrecht (1884-1964)
Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge), c.1920
Oil on canvas
Collection of Martin J. Maloy
Very little is known about Kurt Albrecht, a painter of urban landscapes and street scenes, who was born in Germany. At some point, probably in the late teens, Albrecht came to New York and produced a body of work depicting its lively street life. Brooklyn Bridge, with deft brushwork and delicate color demonstrates the artist's skill as well as his delight in encountering the sprawling modern metropolis. Although unknown in America, Albrecht achieved enough acclaim in his native country to be included in a 2006 exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, The Conquest of the Street, which included works by other painters of the urban scene such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.
Junius Allen (1898-1962)
Storm Over the Hudson, c.1940
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Hudson River Museum
Yonkers, New York 76.6
Storm depicts the urbanized shores of the Hudson at Yonkers in a scene showing the ramshackle shabbiness of the downtown's edges. Allen's stormy sky is bleak, the angled power lines become ominous crucifixes, and the few figures under umbrellas evoke a sense of isolation similar to figures in works by Edward Hopper. Here the river is mere background as the gray smoke billowing from factory smokestacks and house chimneys rises and merges into the clouds of the swirling storm.
George Ault (1891-1948)
From Brooklyn Heights, c.1925-1928
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
Purchase 1928 The General Fund, 28.1802
Ault adopted the more contemporary style and the iconography of urban modernism seen in From Brooklyn Heights through contact with artists like Oscar Bleumner, Edward Bruce, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Louis Lozowick. Although critics celebrated his "personal sense of the relation of form and color," others found Ault's combination of boxy shapes and a restricted palette somber and disquieting. This view, painted from his studio window, depicts New York with clock-like precision, the crisp geometric forms suggesting the sleek Art Deco skyscrapers of Manhattan's skyline.
Gifford Beal (1879-1956)
On the Hudson at Newburgh, 1918
Oil on canvas
The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Beal created grandly beautiful paintings but he was something of a retrograde figure in American art. One critic in the 1920s described him as the "sole surviving Hudson River School painter" after the "desertion" of Ernest Lawson and Van Dearing Perrine, and stated flatly that the School had largely died with "Kensett, Cole, Doughty, Durand, and Bierstadt." Nevertheless, On the Hudson at Newburgh, painted as the United States entered World War I, represents a significant accomplishment, in which Beal captures the sublimity of Hudson River School painting, and grafts onto it a reverential awareness of the rising place of the modern world in the traditional landscape.
Reynolds Beal (1867-1951)
Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, 1930
Oil on masonite
Collection of Joanne and Jim Cohen
The older brother of Gifford Beal, Reynolds studied naval architecture at Cornell University and painting with William Merritt Chase. Beal's naval training and his interest in yachting meant he portrayed the boats in his paintings with particular attention to detail, as can be seen in the tugboat in Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge. Because his paintings were brightly colored with thick applications of paint he was occasionally termed "the American Van Gogh." Beal chose not to show the soaring, seemingly precarious height of the structure but rather uses a piling and the understructure of the bridge to create a framework for his composition.
Cecil Crosley Bell (1906-1970)
Welcoming the Queen Mary , c.1937
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Staten Island Museum, Staten Island, New York
Gift of Agatha Bell Kower, A1973.12.1
Bell is one of the best-known students of Ashcan School painter John Sloan, and embraced his teacher's signature rollicking style when depicting scenes of the urban populace. Welcoming the Queen Mary ranks among Bell's grandest and most satisfying canvases from his many that show New York Harbor and the Staten Island ferries, one loaded with sightseers on the left side of this painting. The energy in Bell's painting reflects the revitalization of Urban Scene painting in the 1930s, most notably by Reginald Marsh. The vigor in Bell's composition was also adopted by older artists such as Ernest Lawson in his work Hoboken Waterfront .
George Bellows (1882-1925)
Winter Afternoon, January 1909
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Gift of R.H. Norton, 49.1
Raised in Columbus, Ohio, Bellows was a student of Robert Henri but his youth prevented him from submitting his work to the landmark 1908 exhibition "The Eight," which included other key Ashcan School figures, such as Luks, Sloan, and Henri, artists Bellows was now closely identified with. Winter Afternoon is a particularly strong example of the urban winter scenes Bellows created between 1908 and 1913. In them, Bellows employs distinctive icy blue-white coloration, lusciously applied paint, and strong composition highlighted by snow to create a series of paintings that stand near the pinnacle of early American Modernism.
Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938)
Harlem River, 1912
Watercolor on paper
Collection of Artis - Naples, The Baker Museum
Museum Purchase, 2000.15.012
Oscar Bleumner studied painting and architecture at Berlin's Royal Technical Academy, and he received his degree in 1892. He later moved to New York, where, in 1903, he submitted the winning design for the Bronx Borough Courthouse. Around 1910, under the aegis of Alfred Steiglitz, Bleumner shifted his focus to painting but his dramatic Cubist forms and chromatically structured landscapes reflect his early architectural training. His watercolors like Harlem River, which was exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913, have softer edges but their rich colors pay homage to Symbolist painting and German Expressionism, and offer a bold counterpoint to popular impressionist cityscapes.
Daniel Putnam Brinley (1879-1963)
Hudson River View (Sugar Factory at Yonkers), c.1915
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
Museum Purchase, 95.3.1
Brinley grew up in Cos Cob, Connecticut and studied painting with John Henry Twachtman at the artist colony there and at the Art Students League in New York. During a trip to Europe, Brinley became associated with artists John Marin and Max Weber, and his work began to exhibit more modernist tendencies. Upon his return to New York, Brinley exhibited at Alfred Steiglitz's Gallery 291 and was instrumental in the organization of the 1913 Armory Show. As seen here, Brinley's mature style is a vibrant mélange of impressionism and the flattened forms and structural concerns of modernism.
Edward Bruce (1879-1943)
Power, c.1933
Oil on canvas
The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Gift of Mrs. Edward Bruce, 1957
Bruce amassed a fortune practicing international law in New York and Manila, Philippines, before shifting his focus to banking and trade in the Far East. While abroad, he began collecting Asian art and it may have been this pastime that led him to abandon business at the age of forty-three to focus on making art. Bruce spent the next six years studying painting with Maurice Stern in Italy, before returning to New York in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression. The son of a minister, he infused his landscapes with a spiritual quality, seen here in the shafts of light that break through the clouds and envelope Manhattan in radiant aura.
Theodore Earl Butler (1861-1936)
Brooklyn Bridge, 1900
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Hawthorne Fine Art. LLC, New York, New York
Butler, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, studied at the Art Students League of New York with William Merritt Chase and Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Butler had considerable artistic success after studying in Paris, and he married two of Claude Monet's stepdaughters in succession, while moving between France and New York and acting as a cultural link for American artists abroad. The influence of Monet can be seen in Butler's fizzy, celebratory painting done in highly keyed roses and blues. In this painting he captures the excitement of the dawn of the new "American" century, amid billowing smoke, a soaring bridge, and a flag waving jauntily from the top of a turret.
Carlton Theodore Chapman (1860-1925)
The East River, NYC, 1904
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
Gift of Mrs. Carlton T. Chapman, 1938.425
After studying at the National Academy in New York and the Académie Julian in Paris, Chapman was commissioned to create illustrations of scenes of marine battles for a historical volume, Naval Actions of the War of 1812. Chapman's illustrative skill is seen in The East River, where he chooses a surprisingly neutral position from the mouth of the river to depict the bridge. By pulling back to paint the full elegance of the curving span, he sacrifices both the drama of the bridge's distinctive gothic arches as well as the scale of the bridge's monumentality to its surrounding buildings, both of which were visual catnip to other artists of the time.
Clarence Kerr Chatterton (1880-1973)
Tugboat on the Hudson, 1912
Watercolor and gouache on board
Private Collection
Chatterton grew up along the Hudson River in Newburgh, which was at the time abustling river town, and scenes of industry and leisure along the river were among his preferred subjects. In Tugboat on the Hudson, his combination of quick brushwork in the foreground with long, fluid strokes of paint in the hills beyond creates a dynamic and mobile design in emerald tones, punctuated by the bold red of the tugboat. Chatterton studied with Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase at the New York School of Art, and throughout his career credited Henri as the greatest influence on his approach to painting.
James Rene Clarke (1886-1969)
Washington Bridge, 1920
Watercolor on paper
Collection of the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
Gift of the artist, 61.8.1
Washington Bridge, originally known as the Harlem River Bridge, then, the Manhattan Bridge, opened in 1889, spanning the Harlem River, and making the rural Bronx more accessible for development. Eventually, with the opening of the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson in 1931, the Harlem Bridge became part of the Interstate Highway System. One of its two steel arches spans the Harlem River, the other, the tracks of the Penn Central Railroad. Clarke, a Yonkers' resident, was a commercial illustrator and advertising executive for most of his career, but he also worked as a curator at the Hudson River Museum.
Glenn Coleman (1887-1932)
Empire State Building, c.1930-32
Oil on canvas
Collection of Max Ember
Striking in both its design and physical size, Glenn Coleman's Empire State Building embodies the ambition of modern New York City and its most iconic building, which was completed in 1931. Never very successful financially, Coleman occasionally found work as an illustrator for publications like the controversial magazine, The Masses. The socialist politics of the magazine filtered into his life and work. In this painting of the 102-story building that was the world's tallest for forty years after its completion, Coleman paints a scene in which the sleek Art Deco skyscraper dwarfs the older, ramshackle buildings that line the piers along the Hudson River, its menacing quality enhanced by the composition's oblique vantage point and the skyscraper's sheer and impenetrable Cubist forms. Painted shortly before his early death on Long Island in 1932, Empire State Building perhaps reflects Coleman's ultimate ambivalence to the city and his own thwarted ambitions.
Glenn Coleman (1887-1932)
The Dock, n.d.
Oil on canvas
Private Collection, Courtesy Aaron Payne Fine Art,
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Despite Coleman's early interest in city life and street scenes, it was the architecture of the metropolis that became the dominant theme of his painting. Like many artists of his generation, Coleman became interested in Cubism and the paintings of his mature career, such as The Dock, demonstrate a strong command of structure and design. Here Coleman combines the hard, square edges of skyscrapers with the rounded forms of coal elevators, bridge spans, gas barrels, and the hull of a tugboat on the river, to create a dynamic portrait of the modern city as seen from its outermost edges.
Francis Criss (1901-1973)
Jefferson Market Court House, 1935
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Gift of William H. and Eloise R. Chandler
Criss was nimble in a variety of styles, and his work demonstrates an eclectic array of influences. Jefferson Market Court House displays a command of the Precisionist vocabulary: industrial subjects rendered in a linear, abstracted style, and blended with a surrealist quality that became Criss's hallmark. The pointed and decorated Ruskinian gothic courthouse, juxtaposed with the curved elevated lines and the box-like buildings behind it, present an irresistible means to explore spatial relationships as well as the multi-faceted architectural fabric of the modern city.
Arnold Hoffman (1886-1966)
Untitled (Weehawken), c.1925
Oil on canvas
Collection of Martin J. Maloy
Hoffman was born in Odessa, Russia. Upon moving to New York, he exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Academy of Design and worked as a portraitist, teacher, and lithographer. In this painting, Hoffman presents a vision of the huge rail yards at Weehawken as a kind of Dante-esque view of Hades, in which the smoke of trains, boats, and factories pours forth and threatens to consume the entire landscape as a fiery orange streetcar prepares to descend to its subterranean depths.
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979)
Power Plant in Harlem,1934
Oil on canvas
From the Hampton University Museum Collection, Hampton, Virginia
Aaron Douglas was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and 30s and Power Plant in Harlem demonstrates his sensitivity to the urban landscape. The title of this painting is slightly misleading because the Sherman Creek Generating Station Douglas depicts is located at the intersection of 201st Street and the Harlem River in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, rather than in Harlem. The station, built in 1913, was one of a number of power plants erected to meet New York City's ever-rising demand for electricity. Despite the modern usage of the structure, Douglas imbues the station with the sublime timelessness of an Egyptian pyramid.
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979)
Triborough Bridge, 1936
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
Born in Kansas, Douglas earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska, before moving to New York in 1925, where he immersed himself in the culture of Harlem and became a documenter of everyday life in and around the city. He painted numerous industrial scenes and landscapes in a distinctive style - combining elements of Art Deco Modernism with the bold, simplified forms of African art, in which his figures often appeared in dramatic silhouette. Douglas' style in Triborough Bridge is quieter and combines elements of a human community enjoying a new urban "pocket" green space on Manhattan's Upper East Side, built in conjunction with the new Triborough Bridge that opened the year he created this painting.
John Folinsbee (1892-1972)
The Harbor, 1917
Oil on canvas
Private Collection
Although associated with Pennsylvania Impressionism, scenes of New York form a significant body of Folinsbee's early work, and industrial imagery remained a dominant theme throughout his career. Largely self-taught, Folinsbee studied briefly with Jonas Lie, who urged his friend to explore the pictorial possibilities of the modern city. From the windows of his mother-in-law's Brooklyn townhouse, the view of New York's wharves, bustling harbor, and skyline provided rich subject matter. Folinsbee made numerous sketches of the tugboats and warehouses that appear in The Harbor, some of which also became stand-alone paintings.
John Folinsbee (1892-1972)
Queensborough Bridge, 1917
Oil on canvas
Collection of Nina and Stephen Cook
With its dramatic span across the river and the spider-web geometry of its massive silver trusses, the Queensborough Bridge was the quintessential symbol of New York in a new 20th century, and a perfect subject for Folinsbee. He may have drawn inspiration from J. Alden Weir's The Bridge: Nocturne (Nocturne: Queensboro Bridge], which, like his own view, depicts the bridge seen over the rooftops of Midtown Manhattan. Here, Folinsbee combines quick vertical strokes of paint to suggest the bridge's network of steel beams and uses shorter horizontal strokes for the nearby factory smokestacks, creating the shimmering optical illusion of viewing the bridge through falling snow.
Inna Garsoïan (1896-1984)
Eastside Drive, c.1940
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
Gift of Nina Garsoian, 2001.303
As a young girl, Garsoïan fled the Russian Revolution with her family and settled in Paris, where she became an art student. and by the time she arrived in New York she had established herself as a designer, and painter. Her landscapes demonstrate an affinity for shapes pared down to their most essential elements, rendered in a bleached palette. The stark Eastside Drive presents us with an urban environment that is alienating, dominated by architecture and nearly devoid of human presence. Such emphatic geometry and sublime emptiness counter the giddy embrace of the metropolis by the previous generation, suggesting instead that the modern city is inhospitable to human life
William Glackens (1870-1938)
Tugboat with Lighter, 1908
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale,
Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Bequest of Ira Glackens
Philadelphia born Glackens attended high school with fellow Ashcan artist John Sloan and met Robert Henri, who encouraged him to study in Paris. When he returned to the United States, he became one of the founders of the group "The Eight" along with Henri, Sloan, and other artists. Tugboat with Lighter is something of an outlier in Glackens' artistic oeuvre. Although he is grouped with the Ashcan artists, Glackens was one of the least attracted to the grittiness of industry and the grubbier, more earthy aspects of urban life. Instead, he preferred to depict middle-class urbanites relaxing in demure environments.
Robert Henri (1865-1929)
Cumulus Clouds, East River, c. 1901-02
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Gift of Mrs. Daniel Fraad in memory of her husband
Henri was one of the key figures of the Ashcan Movement, and an entire generation of younger painters as diverse as George Bellows, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, and Rockwell Kent owed something of their mature styles to his influence. Henri was intimately concerned with the creation of a genuinely American school of painting that rejected academic realism. The two pictures by Henri in this exhibition show his interest in New York's rivers. Although both pictures contain elements of gritty waterfront life, the lushly sublime dawn in Cumulus Clouds, East River softens the harshness of the surroundings and becomes, instead, the subject of the painting.
Robert Henri
East River Embankment, Winter, 1900
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gift of the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1966, 66.2435
Henri proves himself to be a delicate and subtle colorist in East River Embankment, Winter. Using a highly restricted tonal palette, he reveals his admiration for James McNeill Whistler, whose famous style, partly derived from the Japanese aesthetic, employs the flattened perspective with which Whistler sought to overturn ideas embraced by Hudson River School painters, what he called "damned realism, and beautiful nature, and the whole mess." Nevertheless, Henri endows his winter twilight scene with a soft and vaporous beauty.
Leon Kroll (1884-1974)
Queensborough Bridge, 1912
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Bequest of Mrs. Leon Kroll, 1979.72.1
A native New Yorker, Leon Kroll began painting the city's urban landscape early in his career. The Queensborough Bridge, a feat of engineering at the time and a new icon for the modern era, was an irresistible subject. An elegant swan to the Brooklyn Bridge's sturdy stevedore, the Queensborough's granite piers and iron grillwork slice rhythmically across the canvas. Seen from below, the bridge is massive in scale, soaring above the bustling waterfront and dwarfing everything beneath it.
Leon Kroll (1884-1974)
Terminal Yards, 1913
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan Gift of Mrs. Arthur Jerome Eddy, 1931.4
In Terminal Yards, Leon Kroll presents a panoramic vista of New York from Weehawken Heights in New Jersey, a vertiginous vantage point that creates an awesome, sweeping design. Kroll juxtaposes the rugged surfaces of the Palisades with man-made structures, stitching the two elements together with sinuous arcs of the railroad tracks. The prismatic, jagged skyline stretches across one end of the canvas to another like an ancient mountain range. One of the paintings included in the 1913 Armory Show, Terminal Yards was purchased by the pioneering collector Arthur Jerome Eddy.
Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
Brooklyn Bridge, c. 1917-20
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois
Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.43
For artists of Ernest Lawson's generation, the Brooklyn Bridge was an icon of modernity and one of New York's most important symbols but by the time Lawson created this portrait of the bridge other feats of engineering - sleek skyscrapers and bridges, elegant and slim - had begun to capture the imagination of a new crop of artists. Cloaked in a romantic, moonlit haze, Lawson's bridge emerges from the shadows, its gothic piers evocative of an ancient monument. Like the mansard roofs of the Ferry House nearby, it is a historical marker of change in a city where the old is regularly torn down to make way for the new.
Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
Hoboken Waterfront, c.1930
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Gift of R. H. Norton, 46.12
Ernest Lawson's Hoboken Waterfront is a vigorous and brawny late-career work. One of the original members of The Eight, a group of American painters who furthered the advance of modernism, Lawson was drawn to scenes of urban life, which he painted in a rich palette with a thick application of paint and bold strokes of his brush. In this painting, he nimbly manipulates our sense of scale in a layered, tumultuous jumble of buildings, ships, and turbulent waters that conveys the dizzying pace of modern life in the metropolis.
Ernest Lawson (1873-1939)
Railroad Track, c.1905
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Gift of R. H. Norton, 53.106
Lawson was interested in the intersection of urban and rural environments, particularly on New York's outer edges as the rapidly expanding city developed areas like University Heights that still had a rural quality early in the 20th century. Lawson's subject here is the former hilltop campus of New York University, now Bronx Community College, seen from the railroad crossing at Spuyten Duyvil at Tibbet's Creek (now filled in), as it makes a dramatic arc across the section of the Bronx, today called Riverdale.
Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958)
High Bridge Over the Harlem River, 1913
Oil on canvas
Collection of Kristine and Marc Granetz
Lever came to America in 1911 at the urging of artist Ernest Lawson, whom he had met in Paris. Lever was delighted with New York, and quickly made the city his primary subject matter. His structured impressionist style was suited to painting the patterns and shapes of the urban landscape. In the striking High Bridge over the Harlem River, Lever conveys the bridge's massiveness and celebrates its geometric rhythms; in contrast, he reduces the pedestrians on the walkway to tiny figures, just visible above the railing.
Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958)
Riverside Drive and Seventy-Second Street, 1913
Oil on canvas
Permanent Collection of the National Arts Club, New York, New York Diploma Ceremony, 1913
Lever was invigorated by New York City, and eagerly sought subjects that depicted the dynamic collision of residential and commercial areas of the metropolis as it continued to expand and develop. Here, the Chatsworth, a 13-story modern apartment building, towers over the railway yards and piers, which, at the time, stretched along Manhattan's Upper West Side. Such an intersection of industry and habitation might be cause for dismay, but Lever instead bathes the scene in a soft benevolent glow heightened by dramatic areas of light and shadow.
Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958)
Queensboro Bridge and Manhattan , n.d.
Oil on panel
Collection of Kristian Davies
Lever was drawn to New York City's bridges. He painted numerous oil sketches and made a series of prints of the Queensboro Bridge looking
toward Manhattan from a vantage in Astoria, Queens, a different view than that presented by J. Alden Weir and John Folinsbee, who both painted the bridge from Midtown Manhattan. Lever's version enables him to capture the city's skyline, with the upward sweep of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings echoed in the arc of the bridge's steel span.
Martin Lewis (1881-1962)
Railroad Yards, Winter, Weehawken , c. 1917
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of The Old Print Shop, Inc., New York, New York
With its layers of icy blue-white tones and dramatic shadows, Railroad Yards, Winter, Weehawken is reminiscent of the winter scenes of George Bellows, although Lewis creates a distinctly Luminist feeling with the shimmer of his sun-dappled waters. The railroad yards are the ostensible subject but they are dwarfed by the totemic natural edifice with a threatening overhang known as "Weehawken Rocks," a familiar local landmark. Lewis was a well-known print maker in the 1920s and 30s, and this painting is related to an etching he produced in 1918 titled "Above the Yards, Weehawken."
Jonas Lie (1880-1940)
Afterglow, c.1913
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Friends of American Art Collection, 1914.389
The Norwegian-born Lie was fascinated by the rising towers, bridges, and bustling waterfronts of New York, subjects that dominated his work for nearly a decade. Afterglow, which received the first Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy in 1914, is a poetic portrait of the city at dusk, when-enveloped in a mysterious atmosphere of blinking lights, mist, and steam-it rises majestic and golden, a massive beacon in the wintery haze.
Jonas Lie
Path of Gold, c.1914
Oil on canvas
Collection of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
J. J. Haverty Collection, 49.40
In 1914, Jonas Lie traveled to Panama to document the construction of the new Panama Canal, which, like the island of Manhattan, was a symbol of America's industrial might and global power. Upon his return, he viewed the city with eyes transformed-his city canyons and flowing rivers becoming what one critic called "vital forceful constructions." In the dynamic Path of Gold, we gaze longingly on the city in the mist, and, like the tugboats on the river, we are drawn, irresistibly, to ply its path of gold.
Jonas Lie
Bridge and Tugs, c.1911-1915
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Georgia Museum of Art
University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
Museum Purchase with funds provided by
C.L. Morehead, Jr., GMOA 2001.179
In Bridge and Tugs, Lie abandoned his usual palette of blues and greens to create a gritty, muscular counterpoint to Path of Gold. Spanning the canvas, the Brooklyn Bridge looms above the river, solid and gigantic. Lie favored this oblique perspective, and painted a number of versions of the bridge from below, cropping the view to emphasize its monumentality. A 1912 article remarked that Lie's urban landscapes were "splendid mathematical constructions" of color and form-words that apply equally to all three pictures on this wall.
Louis Lozowick (1892-1973)
Lower Manhattan, 1932
Oil on canvas,
Collection of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld
Lozowick studied with Leon Kroll, and his own interest in painting cityscapes may have been influenced by his teacher. Contact with the Russian avant-garde during travels to his native Ukraine, however, led him to adopt a hard-edged, linear style evident in the stacked geometric masses of Lower Manhattan. Still, Lozowick could not resist the romance of the city at morning. The radiant, a study for a 1936 mural diptych for the New York City General Post Office (opposite Pennsylvania Station), captures the sublime wonder of the city at sunrise.
George Luks (1866-1933)
Roundhouses at High Bridge, c.1909-1910
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute,
Utica, New York
Museum Purchase, 50.17
From an elevated vantage on High Bridge, Luks paints a panoramic vista of the farthest reaches of Manhattan-the rail yard at 170th Street and the Harlem River. The commanding presence in the picture is the forceful plumes of smoke surging skyward from the roundhouse, darkly present in the foreground. A theatrical, rosy glow of the setting sun softens the sublime effect of the dense industrial haze. Seen in nearly every picture in these galleries, smoke is a leitmotif of the industrial landscape, a metaphor for American technological power.
George Macrum (1878-1970)
The Pile Driver, 1912
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
John Lambert Fund
The Pile Driver is one of at least two large paintings the artist made that features the pile drivers along the Yonkers waterfront. Pile drivers, which drove piles into the soft sand of the riverbed, were essential to the development of the city, and were frequent subjects for artists drawn to the industrial landscape. Here, Macrum juxtaposes the strong vertical scaffolding of the driver against the distant and rugged cliffs of the Palisades, providing another commentary on the collision of the natural environment and the city's relentless pursuit of commercial development.
John Marin (1870-1953)
Docks at Weehawken, Opposite New York, 1916
Watercolor on paper
Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Gift of Elsie and Marvin Dekelboum, 2005.49
Marin painted Docks at Weehawken, Opposite New York three years after the 1913 completion of Grand Central Terminal at 42nd Street caused an explosion in the development in Midtown, which had been modest up to that point. Unlike Lower Manhattan from the River, across the gallery, this earlier work is a more evocative and romantic vision of the city, one with a skyline not yet punctuated by the pointy giants erected there in the late 1920s and 30s.
John Marin (1870-1953)
Lower Manhattan from the River, No. 1, 1921
Watercolor, charcoal, and graphite on paper
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949, 49.70.122
In this vibrant and pulsating view of the skyline from the water, John Marin captures the energy and excitement of the modern metropolis and the awe it inspired. His skyscrapers, slender and magnificent, rise like mountainous stalagmites to the sky where they meet the setting sun, where they are bathed in a warm, benevolent glow. A master watercolorist, Marin fused European Modernism with a decidedly American approach - lively brushwork, sparkling colors, and an energy and enthusiasm perfectly suited to depicting life in the modern city.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
City Harbor, 1939
Watercolor on paper, 15 x 21 inches
Collection of the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
Bequest of Felicia Meyer Marsh, 79.10
c 2013 Estate of Reginald Marsh / Art Students League, New York
All three watercolors by Marsh in this gallery eschew his usual flamboyant human-interest subjects to focus on the more somber aspects of New York's waterfront. Here he pulls his laser-sharp and satirical gaze away from the myriad street-level vulgarities found on every hand to focus on its outer edges. Unlike the softer New York Skyline nearby, City Harbor, with dark lines and inky-black smoke belching forth is ominous, a portent, perhaps, of a world that would soon be at war.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
Tugboat at Dockside, 1932
Watercolor on paper
Collection of the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
Bequest of Isadore and Kelly Friedman, 2007.5.17.
Although this watercolor does not contain the riotous crowds that one usually associates with Marsh's paintings, it does suggest his interest in the city's poorer neighborhoods. He increasingly portrayed images of the working poor and unemployed as the Great Depression worsened to its nadir in 1932. Here the quietness of the scene subtly suggests the idleness brought on by so much unemployment in New York City as the gears of capitalism ground to a halt.
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
New York Skyline, 1937
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of Arader Galleries, New York, New York
Marsh was born in Paris to American expatriate-artist parents, and later attended Yale University. During the 1920s he worked as a staff artist for a number of magazines, but by the 1930s, began to focus on his own work portraying scenes of urban life. His paintings were often the antithesis of the sublime, depicting gritty interactions in the lives of everyday New Yorkers, but here he captures the grand magnificence of the city's landscape with no irony, more sky than skyscraper, a source of poetic reverie.
Alfred Mira (1900-1981)
Railyards , Westside, c.1940
Oil on canvas
Collection of Erik Davies
Mira depicts a panoramic view of the New Jersey shoreline and docks, Manhattan's 30th street rail yards, and the comparatively new West Side Elevated Highway, which began construction in 1929. Mira depicts the highway span between 29th and 37th streets, completed by 1933. His painting is a visual metaphor for the growing influence automobiles would wield in the city after World War II, when Robert Moses, "master builder" of mid-twentieth century NewYork City, and leader of numerous public authorities, expanded the city's highway system.
John Noble (1913-1983)
The Building of the Tidewater, c.1937
Oil on canvas
The Noble Maritime Collection, Staten Island, New York
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold G. Tucker
John Noble's work often depicted the waterfront in and around his home near Snug Harbor on Staten Island. In The Building of the Tidewater, he captures a sense of expectation and power in the depiction of the construction of a new refinery for the Tidewater Oil Company in Bayonne, New Jersey. Noble makes dramatic use of the huge red pipes along the waterside, tempting you to look inside them to contemplate the long, telescoping void they create, or to take in their monumental scale from a distance.
George Oberteuffer (1878-1937)
View at Hellsgate Bridge, n.d.
Oil on board
Collection of Remak Ramsay
Oberteuffer was strongly influenced by French Impressionism, developing a vigorous, dashing style of bright colors, which he absorbed living for nearly twenty years in France. This impressionistic sketch was likely painted en plein air, and he captures the ruggedness along the waterfront at a point between Astoria, Queens, Randall's Island, and the Bronx, over a portion of the East River known as "Hell Gate," connected by the Hell Gate Bridge, completed in 1916. The bridge's name was a corruption of the Dutch "Hellegat" for "hell's hole" or "bright gate," so called because the original explorers found navigation hazardous due to the intersection of different currents.
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
East River from the Shelton (East River No.1), c.1927-28
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey
Purchased by the Association for the Arts of the New Jersey State Museum, with a gift from Mary Lea Johnson, FA1972.229
Georgia O'Keeffe painted a number of landscapes depicting the view of the East River from her studio in the thirtieth-floor apartment in the Shelton Hotel, which she shared with her husband, Alfred Stieglitz. East River from the Shelton (East River No. 1) crops the panoramic view she had to focus on the factory in the lower foreground, silhouetted against the bold red reflection of the rising sun. The picture suggests an increasing ambivalence towards the city, and although she was drawn to the city's geometry and patterns, O'Keeffe ultimately distanced herself from New York and the urban landscape.
Marguerite Ohman (1912?-1957)
View of the East River with the Manhattan Bridge, New York City, 1940
Watercolor, graphite, and white gouache on paper
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
INV. 14847
Ohman's views of the city are predominately painted from rooftop vantage points with commanding panoramic vistas, yet they seem to offer us a more personal experience of the urban environment. In View of the East River with the Manhattan Bridge, the paths of the boats create sinuous arcs on the water-curves that counteract the stentorian verticals and horizontals of steel, brick, and mortar, and which lead us out and away from the close confines of the city.
Marguerite Ohman (1912?-1957)
View of the Queensborough Bridge from Central Park, New York City, c.1940
Watercolor, graphite, and white gouache on paper, 23 x 31 inches
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
INV. 14848
Ohman's strong sense of design and command of pictorial space in View of the Queensborough Bridge from Central Park, New York City conveys an underlying current of claustrophobia as people and nature are rigidly controlled by the city that surrounds them. Central Park, a massive green space in the middle of Manhattan, and the nominal location of this scene, is nowhere in view. Nature is relegated to plants in boxes on a balcony-which, with stems as straight and regular as the buildings that surround them, seem as unnatural as the edifices surrounding them.
Marguerite Ohman (1912?-1957)
View of the East River with Queensborough Bridge, New York City, c.1940
Watercolor and graphite on paper
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
In contrast to some of her more claustrophobic scenes of the city, Ohman, here, gives us a sense of New York City's sprawl with a panoramic view that stretches from the Lower East Side over the river and beyond. However, the rigid grid of the city, rendered in gritty tones of brown and red, rises starkly above the cool blue openness of a placid East River, a contrast in form and atmosphere that divides the painting into two equal parts and reinforces Ohman's concerns about the alienating effects of this urban environment.
Marguerite Ohman (1912?-1957)
View of the East River at Night with Queensborough Bridge, New York City, c.1940
Watercolor, graphite, and white gouache on paper laid on card mounted on board
Collection of the New-York Historical Society,New York, New York
Originally known as Blackwell's Island Bridge, the Queensborough was considered both a symbol of American engineering and technical innovation as well as a work of art. From its entrance among the factories and warehouses of Queens, it spans the East River like an elegant swan, making a dramatic entrance on the Upper East Side. Ohman captures that majesty in her nocturnal view from the Lower East Side. Although her approach to her subject is matter-of-fact, the glittering lights and river transform the view into something magical.
George Parker (1888-1957)
East River, N.Y.C., 1939
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
Purchase, James B. Wilbur Fund, 1940.200
In East River, Parker provides an up-close view of stevedores on the Brooklyn docks taking a cigarette break. He uses a ground-level perspective to emphasize the massive ship hulls looming over the workers, and the long line of the vessels leads the eye back towards the dramatic skyline on the other side of the river. By 1939, the worst of the Great Depression was over, but Parker still cloaks the city in a gloomy haze, forcing us to look instead on his vignette of the workingman.
Van Dearing Perrine (1869-1955)
Palisades, 1906
Oil on canvas
Susan Perrine King and Shawn King, Executors
Van Dearing Perrine Estate
When Perrine painted Palisades, he was actually living in a small shack that clung to this rocky outcrop and he successfully captures the drama of the ledge of rocks that had been a favorite subject for Hudson River School artists throughout the 19th century. The awe-inspiring effect of the Palisades is one of the definitions of the "natural sublime," and Perrine's choice of the Palisades as his subject at the time most American artists were rushing to embrace a view of urban life and man-made grandeur is telling. It recognized the 20th-century link to the tradition of 19th-American landscape, albeit in a more modern, vigorous painting style.
Robert K. Ryland (1873-1951)
The Bridge Pier, 1931
Oil on board
Collection of Remak Ramsay
Painted when he was nearly sixty, Ryland captures something of the dreaminess that can be experienced by living in the city. Ryland painted this work during the depths of the Great Depression, and it is perhaps sadly suitable to the time, showing a man sitting on a pier contemplating the East River. He does not reach out but looks in quiet contemplation at something beyond his grasp.
Robert Spencer (1879-1931)
Weather, 1925
Oil on canvas
Collection of Gregory and Maureen Church
If some artists chose to look up, silhouetting New York's dramatic skyline against a vibrant sky, Robert Spencer's urban landscapes bring us back down to earth. He directs our attention away from the gleaming skyscrapers and mammoth bridges to the commonplace-brick tenements, warehouses, and wave-worn docks lining the waterfront. The modest, undulating skyline instead functions as a backdrop to vignettes of everyday urban life.
Charles Rosen (1878-1950)
The Roundhouse, Kingston, New York, 1927
Oil on canvas
Collection of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Gift of the John P. Horton Estate
Most often associated with Pennsylvania Impressionism, Rosen moved to Woodstock in the 1920s where his approach to the landscape was transformed. The Roundhouse, Kingston, New York, is a tightly constructed canvas dominated by the dynamic curves of buildings, tracks, and tower that follow the arc of the river at the uppermost edge of the painting before sweeping into its center. Rosen's tilted perspective creates a sense of disorientation, which causes the viewer to disassociate the buildings as a specific place and to focus instead on the swirling vortex they create.
Everett Shinn (1876-1953)
Barges on the East River, 1898
Charcoal and wash on paper
Private Collection
Barges, a candid scene of daily city life that Shinn completed the year after he moved to New York, demonstrates his growing ambition as an artist and the developing maturity of his style. He was increasingly attracted to the working aspects of the city and made it a subject of his painting, one that would coalesce into what would soon be known as the Ashcan School. Shinn shows the importance of barges to the transportation and economy of New York at the turn of the 20th century and he gives us, too, a glimpse of leisure moments in the day for men working on river barges. Lines of laundry drying on deck, musical interludes, and recreational, if dubious, swims in the polluted East River were part of the sailors' spirited life
John Sloan (1871-1951)
Cliffs of the Palisades, 1908
Oil on canvas
Collection of Thelma and Melvin Lenkin
Intimacy in landscape painting is difficult to convey but Sloan achieves it in this small sketch of the Palisades, the cliffs that fringe the Hudson River waterfront. It is interesting to compare this sketch of seemingly contradictory Arcadian Realism to John Sloan's larger work Hudson Sky, painted from a magisterial view - looking down the cliffs to the river. Cliffs of the Palisades, in contrast, is painted with a reverential view from the base of the Palisades - looking up. Sloan, though, angles his composition, so that the rocks do not appear threatening in their magnificence.
John Sloan
Hudson Sky, 1908
Oil on canvas
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas
The Roland P. Murdock Collection, M5.39
John Sloan is usually associated with the urban subjects embraced by the Ashcan School, but Hudson Sky links Sloan, with the traditions of the earlier Hudson River School. The desire to escape the city for the unpolluted land and water of the Hudson Valley was a long-held impulse that had existed since Thomas Cole's day and the purity of Hudson Sky makes a dramatic contrast with the polluted scene of Shinn's Barges on the East River. Sloan's painting represents just a few miles remove from the city but is a world apart from Manhattan's waterfront.
Charles Vezin (1858-1942)
Drifting, c.1925
Oil on board
Collection of the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
Gift of Charles Vezin, Jr. 1954, 54.28.1
In Drifting, Vezin creates a study of glassy water and ice. The title is apropos, as the eye is drawn across the painting's surface. Vezin was drawn to the magnificence of the unspoiled nature of the Palisades and its startling contrast and proximity to the burgeoning metropolis of New York City. Vezin creates an elegant goodbye to American Impressionism with his signature soft pinks and blues, a style increasingly at odds with the sharpness and pointed social commentary of a new generation of artists.
Everett Longley Warner (1877-1963)
Brooklyn Bridge (Study for Manhattan Contrasts), n.d.
Oil on board
Collection of Remak Ramsay
Warner, born in Iowa, was educated in Washington D.C., where he studied at the Corcoran School of Art. At the startlingly early age of 18, he became an art critic for the Washington Star. Warner also experienced artistic success early, and, in 1903, through sales of his art work he financed a trip to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. When he returned to New York, Warner drew his subjects from the cityscape, finding "the daily commercial activity, the smoke and steam, the softly colored eighteenth century buildingsand the modern buildings that thrust up behind the old streets" a source of inspiration. In a series of small sketches and larger canvases, he captured the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge, which has beguiled so many artists.
Everett Longley Warner
Dawn , East River, n.d.
Oil on canvas board, 6 14 x 9 38 inches
Collection of Remak Ramsay
Warner spent idyllic summers in the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony, a center of American Impressionism, even after that style was no longer at the avant garde. Works like Dawn, East River demonstrate how successfully a style most often associated with white churches, rocky coasts, and scenic nature could be adapted to portraying modern New York. As the sun rises over the East River, Warner creates an iridescently sublime moment of optimism for the dawn that reveals the spiritual chasm between continually renewing hope and the mundane of everyday life.
Everett Longley Warner (1877-1963)
Peck Slip, N.Y.C., n.d.
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
Gift of the artist, 1945.343
Likely painted after Warner returned from extensive study in France, Peck Slip depicts the warehouses on the north side of Peck Slip between Front and South Streets of Lower Manhattan, a hive of commercial activity in the early 20th century. He romanticizes the urban scene with soft light and a bleached palette, but these effects heighten the monumental quality of Brooklyn Bridge, which strides above the buildings below.
Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
The Bridge: Nocturne (Nocturne: Queensboro Bridge), 1910
Oil on canvas mounted on wood
Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966
At night the objective recording of objects vanishes from the artist's repertoire. Many artists were acutely conscious of how the advent of electricity transformed New York's skyline. Weir, who was one of the organizers of the landmark 1913 Armory Show, was an older artist who embraced the transforming city. His nocturne could have served as an illustration for a 1909 article about the "New" New York: "At dusk when each house of many thousand electric lights has its windows illuminated, there is . . . a grandeur of mass, of light, of color, that is most imposing."
Sidney M. Wiggins (1881-1940)
Factory Scene with Train, c.1925-40
Oil on board
Collection of the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew L. Lifflander, 95.5.1
Wiggins studied painting with artist Robert Henri in New York. Arriving in Yonkers in 1923, Wiggins became an active member of the Yonkers Art Association and was its first vice president in 1937. Although painting in a soft impressionistic style, he frequently looked for his subjects in factories and industrial scenes. Wiggins died suddenly in April 1940 on the eve of the opening of the Yonkers Art Association's 25th annual exhibition, which featured his final painting, a depiction of coal docks in the Ludlow neighborhood of Yonkers.
Max Kuehne (1880-1968)
Lower Manhattan, 1913
Oil on panel
Collection of Erik Davies
Kuehne, who was born in Germany, studied with artist William Merritt Chase and later with Robert Henri, who encouraged Kuehne to focus on scenes of urban life and to study in Europe, where he traveled with Ernest Lawson. Upon returning to New York, Kuehne's palette tended towards the darker Spanish influence of painting as translated through Manet but by 1912 his tones had lightened, and he began producing brighter paintings "full of sparkling sunlight." Kuehne uses the curving New Jersey dock in the foreground as the entry point into the picture, while within easy view across the Hudson, Manhattan's shore and skyline beckon.
Colin Campbell Cooper (1856-1937)
Manhattan Bridge from Henry Street, n.d.
Pastel on paper
Collection of John and Sally Freeman
One of the best-known city painters of his generation, Cooper was born in Philadelphia. He studied with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before leaving for Paris in 1889 for further study at the Académie Julian. Cooper established a studio in New York in 1904 and quickly earned a reputation for his impressionist city landscapes. Manhattan Bridge from Henry Street demonstrates his mastery of the pastel medium in which he employed a positive-negative approach to his subject by filling in around it, using the brown surface of the paper to convey the bridge's massive, skeletal structure.
Glenn Coleman (1887-1932)
Queensboro Bridge, East River, c.1910
Oil on canvas
Collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966
Coleman studied with Robert Henri and Everett Shinn, and his early paintings reflect an Ashcan sensibility with their interest in city life, dark palette, and fluid brushwork. Coleman's composition creates a picture with three distinct subjects. In the upper part of the canvas, the new bridge boldly strides across the East River, while below it, the white bridge pier and a steamboat glitter in the waning light of early evening. In the shadow of the bridge and unseen tenement buildings, Coleman gives us a vignette of city life - pedestrians taking an evening stroll as, nearby, laundry flaps in the breeze.
Colin Campbell Cooper (1856-1937)
Hudson River Waterfront, N.Y.C, c. 1913-1921
Oil on canvas
Collection of the New-York Historical Society, New York, New York
Gift of Miss Helene F. Seeley, in memory of the artist and his wife
Cooper's dramatic view of New York City's skyline captures the wonder and fascination it held for visitors and inhabitants alike, with its Woolworth and Singer Buildings scraping the sky and glinting in the morning sun. Art historian John C. Van Dyke compared the view of New York from the water - towering, prismatic, and luminous - to that of Venice: superbly picturesque and grandly beautiful. Even after Cooper moved to California in 1921, he continued to paint New York subjects with the same grandeur of expression and color seen in Hudson River Waterfront.


Editor's note:

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Linda Locke, Director of Publications, Hudson River Museum, for her assistance in obtaining permissions to post images of wall panel texts, artworks, the exhibition brochure and a display of related information. Permissions were granted and the images posted 4/10/14.

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rev. 4/10/14

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