The Urban Scene: 1920–1950

National Gallery of Art. Washington, DC



Country: USA
City: Washington, DC
Museum/Gallery: National Gallery of Art

 

On view through August 6, 2017

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-019Armin Landeck,” View of New York”, 1932, lithograph, image: 68.9 x 59.7 cm (27 1/8 x 23 1/2 in.) sheet: 80 x 64.1 cm (31 1/2 x 25 1/4 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Gift of Reba and Dave Williams

American artists of the early 20th century sought to interpret the beauty,
power, and anxiety of the modern age in diverse ways


Exhibition Highlights

The black-and-white prints that comprise The Urban Scene, often highlight the unprecedented scale of urban architecture and the impact of industry and technology on city life.

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-037Edward Arthur Wilson, “Untitled” (Laying Pipe in New York City), 1941, lithograph, image: 27.94 x 33.02 cm (11 x 13 in.) sheet: 34.29 x 48.9 cm (13 1/2 x 19 1/4 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Gift of Reba and Dave Williams



From one perspective, skyscrapers, bridges, and other technological marvels projected wealth, opportunity, and invoked the sublime, but from another these structures could be interpreted as blocking light, deepening shadows, heightening a sense of enclosure and confinement, and amplifying feelings of diminution and anonymity.

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-014Victoria Hutson Huntley, “Lower New York”, 1934, lithograph, plate: 17.3 x 22.5 cm (6 13/16 x 8 7/8 in.) sheet: 33.3 x 36 cm (13 1/8 x 14 3/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Bob Stana and Tom Judy

 

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-031Samuel L. Margolies, “Men of Steel”, c. 1939, drypoint, plate: 38.1 x 29.85 cm (15 x 11 3/4 in.) sheet: 47.63 x 37.47 cm (18 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.) National Gallery


They used line to capture the specifics of a face or the idiosyncrasies of a building and manipulated tone to mimic the play of light. Employing precise detail and descriptive clarity to characterize experience, suggest meaning, and convey a narrative, certain elements were emphasized while others were minimized, resulting in images distilled to their narrative or atmospheric essence.

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-028Howard Cook, “Looking up Broadway”, 1937, lithograph, image: 33.02 x 24.13 cm (13 x 9 1/2 in.) sheet: 45.4 x 31.75 cm (17 7/8 x 12 1/2 in.) National



the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-017Stow Wengenroth, “Quiet Hour”, 1947, lithograph, image: 8 3/4 x 15 in. (22.23 x 38.1 cm) sheet: 11 1/16 x 17 11/16 in. (28.1 x 44.93 cm) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Bequest of Frank B. Bristow)

 

The artists also scrutinized details to convey
particular aspects of urban life

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-036Robert Riggs, “Germantown & Chelten”, c. 1950, lithograph, image: 35.56 x 51.12 cm (14 x 20 1/8 in.) sheet: 40.64 x 58.1 cm (16 x 22 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Florian Carr Fund and Gift of the Print Research Foundation

 the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-008Benton Spruance, “The People Work – Evening”, 1937, lithograph, image: 34.61 x 48.26 cm (13 5/8 x 19 in.) sheet: 40.64 x 58.1 cm (16 x 22 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection


 the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-016Martin Lewis, “Yorkville Night”, 1948, drypoint, sheet: 10 7/8 x 14 3/4 in. (27.62 x 37.47 cm) image: 8 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (21.59 x 29.21 cm)  National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Bequest of Frank B. Bristow)

 

the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-029

Isac Friedlander, “3 A.M.”, 1934, etching, plate: 24.13 x 39.69 cm (9 1/2 x 15 5/8 in.) sheet: 32.07 x 46.67 cm (12 5/8 x 18 3/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection

 the urban scene 1920–1950_Clare Leighton, “Breadline, New York”, 1931, wood engraving, image: 29.85 x 20 cm (11 3/4 x 7 7/8 in.) sheet: 44.45 x 29.21 cm (17 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Reba and Dave Williams Collection, Gift of Reba and Dave Williams


the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-022Louis Lozowick, “Allen Street”, 1929, lithograph, image: 19.1 x 28.5 cm (7 1/2 x 11 1/4 in.) sheet: 28.2 x 40 cm (11 1/8 x 15 3/4 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Jacob Kainen

 

 the urban scene 1920–1950_4842-001Martin Lewis, “Quarter of Nine – Saturday’s Children”, 1929, drypoint, plate: 25.1 x 32.7 cm (9 7/8 x 12 7/8 in.) sheet: 34 x 45.7 cm (13 3/8 x 18 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Addie Burr Clark

 

Rusty-PowellStatement 
Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art

“During the past decade the Gallery has acquired extraordinary groups of prints from the Reba and Dave Williams Collection, the Corcoran Collection, and the collection of Bob Stana and Tom Judy,”

“We are thankful for the generosity of these donors and for the opportunities that have allowed the Gallery’s American print holdings to grow in both richness and depth.”

 

Exhibition Organization and Support
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Exhibition Curator 
The exhibition is organized by Charles Ritchie, associate curator, department of American and modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art.

The Urban Scene: 1920–1950
25 black-and-white prints on view by recognized artists

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