TBT: Old New York

 John Sloan, The City from Greenwich Village, 1922, oil on canvas, 26 x 33 3/4 inches. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Gift of Helen Farr Sloan in 1970. 

 From the National Gallery of Art’s website:

The City from Greenwich Village is a lyrical celebration of the vitality and
excitement of life in lower Manhattan. Looking south over Sixth Avenue from the
artist’s Washington Place studio on a rainy winter evening, electric light merges
with moonlight, casting an evocative golden glow over the city. At the far left,
New York’s skyscrapers seem to hover over the city like a shimmering celestial vision.
Sloan’s painting conveys a nostalgic, romanticized mood, one that contrasts strongly
with the scenes of tenement life, teeming city streets, and desolate back alleys
that he and fellow members of the “Ash Can School” had produced during the first
decade of the century.

The artist’s ambiguous reference to “moonshine” on the billboard in the left foreground
both documents the city’s commercialization and lends a poetic aura to the scene.
This urban imagery may be seen as a precursor to American art of the 1960s, when
Pop artists appropriated advertising motifs and Photo-realists immortalized the
architectural richness of New York.


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