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New York City Views: The Urban Landscape

By Lisa Thomas

In New York City in the early 1920’s, a group of American painters began exploring themes of Industrialization and the Urban Landscape, experimenting with some of the same ideas as the Cubists and Futurists in Europe. They were called the Precisionists for their use of geometrical forms and precise lines and considered themselves thoroughly American, expressing the energy and dynamism of the modern American landscape amidst the turmoil and upheaval of WWI and later the Depression.

At the same time, other American artists were exploring the urban landscape and the growing, industrialized nation with a more traditional style of Realism, using an academic approach to their views of skyscrapers, bridges, subways and the city streets. Artists continued to capture the growth and industrial progress of New York City through the Depression, WWII and the 1950’s, providing us with a visual map of the architectural and social development of this great city. It was a period of great change in America, exemplified in the urbanization and growth of cities, and it is preserved for us by the keen eyes and mighty talent of these American artists.

An eclectic group of over twenty-five views of New York City by American artists from the 1920’s through the 1960’s were sold in our June 7, 2014 Fine Auction of Modern & Contemporary Fine Art, Furniture and Decorations. Included in this group were works by Bernice Abbott, Abraham Walkowitz, Leon Louis Dolice, Richard Bergere, Alfred Mira, Johann Berthelsen and others.

Abbott-Lot142
BERNICE ABBOTT (1898-1991): 5TH AVE. & 8TH ST., June 7, 2014, Lot 142, Sold for $2,400.
Walkowitz-Lot237
ABRAHAM WALKOWITZ (1878-1925): ESTER STREET NEW YORK, June 7, 2014, Lot 237, Sold for $2,500.
Bergere-Lot226
RICHARD BERGERE (B. 1912): NIGHT OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE, June 7, 2014, Lot 226, Sold for $1,100.
Mira-Lot244
ALFRED MIRA (1900-1981): PERRY STREET & 7TH AVENUE, June 7, 2014, Lot 244, Sold for $2,600.
Dolice-Lot228
LEON LOUIS DOLICE (1892-1960): VIEW OF MANHATTAN, June 7, 2014, Lot 228, Sold for $1,300.

For Further Reading:
Precisionism by Jessica Murphy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art >
Images of America: Precisionist Painting and Modern Photography, by Karen Tsujimoto, Paperback >

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