Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Big Apple in art

As one of America's oldest and most vibrant settlements, it's not surprising that New York City is depicted in scores of memorable artworks. The lengthy time span covered in Paintings of New York allows for a variety of artistic styles and periods, providing a well-rounded portrayal of one of the world's great metropolises. The cover image, by Fernand Lungren (1897), depicts "A Winter Wedding in Washington Square."
Things would not remain this bucolic for long! Thomas Kelah Wharton. New York From Brooklyn Heights, 1894
Charles Frederich Ulrich's In the Land of Promise of 1884 captured the immigrant experience shared by so many.

"Newsies" were a favorite subject for paintings of Manhattan life, as was Central Park. In 1894, Henry Inman painted his only urban genre work, News Boy (left), after watching one hawking papers outside of the newly erected Astor House. The fellow at right by James Cafferty (1857) purveys the New York Herald.

William Glackens. Central Park in Winter, 1905.

Maurice Prendergast's The East River (1901) depicts yet another of the pleasant sites set aside for communal recreation in the City.
Three artists focusing on working-class women were Reginald Marsh (Battery Belles, 1938), John Sloan (Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair, 1912), and Isabel Bishop (Double Date Delayed #1, 1948; a black-and-white reproduction of the color painting in the book).

Everett Shin's Curtain Call of 1925 reflects New York City's importance as a hub of culture, while William H. Johnson's Street Life, Harlem (1939) celebrates one of its most famous neighborhoods and Paul Cadmus's Playground (1948) puts one in mind of the West Side Story milieu.

Which artworks would you choose for your imaginary salon?


  1. Though I love them all, the last two I'd love to have in my, uhhh, salon (which room is that again:)! There's just so much life and energy there. Also, imagine the present day paintings - - hipsters, fixed gear bikes, etc.

    1. I'd like the "light fantastic" one of Everett Shin for my wall, but I totally get your point about the pizzazz of the Harlem one and the 'way out there' aspect of the Cadmus.

  2. It's hard to pick favorites, I believe in my salon I would have to choose The East River and the Women Drying Their Hair.

    I agree with Wilhelm about the last one. My absolute favorite part has to be the woman's naked behind being...aired out (?) on the windowsill. Hah!

    I think present day paintings would just look like the #NYC tag on Instagram.

    1. I'm so sad I missed the opportunity for the pun...

      The woman is just showing another "Big Apple in art"

    2. I don't know what's in your browser, but I see a rather chubby lady cleaning her window, not "Moon Over Manhattan."
      What's with the flying dude?
      I really don't recognize the city.