This fall, the New-York Historical Society presents Scenes from New York: The Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection, an exhibition of 130 paintings, works on paper on various supports and sculptures from an extraordinary donation promised by philanthropists and art collectors Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld. Presented from October 22, 2021 to February 27, 2022, the exhibition presents many new artists in the New-York Historical collection, including Marc Chagall, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, George O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol.
âOur gratitude to Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld for the generous donation of their collection runs deep,â said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of New-York Historical. âWith artwork depicting the city’s bustling harbor, local restaurants, tranquil parks and elegant skyscrapers, our visitors will have the opportunity to see New York City with new eyes and, hopefully, a new appreciation. . â
âTo see the collection on display like this is a unique thrill, which I am delighted to share with my fellow New Yorkers,â said Elie Hirschfeld. âSarah and I are very happy that New-York Historical is now the custodian of Scenes of New York City and that future generations will be able to better understand their city through these works.
Organized by Wendy NE Ikemoto, Curator of American Art, with research contributions from Roberta JM Olson, Curator of Drawings Emeritus, the exhibition celebrates New York: Its Buildings, Bridges, Parks, Monuments and People. Many of the works on display feature icons of New York City. For example, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Study for the “Brooklyn Bridge”, 1949, plunges the viewer into the middle of the suspension cables and Gothic arches of the famous bridge. Created when the artist left New York to live in New Mexico, the drawing can serve as an ode to the city. Likewise, Arman Statue of Liberty, California. 1986, and that of Peter Max Freedom and justice for all, 2001, reinvent the famous landmark of New York Harbor.
Additional highlights include depictions of city life. In The S. Klein’s lunch counter in Union Square in the 1930s, California. 1930-1939, Polish-born artist Theresa Bernstein depicts the racially integrated lunch counter of a popular department store. Her work has often explored the main issues of her time, from racial discrimination to unemployment and the right to vote, often through the prism of the daily lives of women. that of Jacob Lawrence Harlem Dinner, 1938, the images struggle during the Great Depression and foreshadow a composition from the artist’s Migration series. A first painting by Mark Rothko, Untitled (The metro), 1937, uses the New York subway as a ground for pictorial experimentation, foreshadowing the abstract color fields of the artist’s mature career.
The New York landscapes offer another perspective on the city. 1930 by Ben Shahn Picnic, Prospect Park applies a modernist style inspired by Paul CÃ©zanne and Henri Matisse to the green space of Brooklyn. that of FranÃ§oise Gilot Gingko Trees in Central Park, 2002-04, is a vision of autumnal yellows, while that of Marc Chagall View of Central Park from the window, 1958 opens from the Stanhope Hotel on Fifth Avenue to a summer scene of the famous City Park and the Central Park West skyline.
Also included are works from movements specifically associated with New York City, such as the Ashcan School, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art. In Central park, 1902, Robert Henri, founder of the Ashcan School, rejects the park’s famous landmarks to instead portray an indescribable slope, rendered with a sharp brush and a stark urban realist style. In Untitled (New York Times), California. 1976, abstract expressionist William de Kooning breaks the strict format of the iconic journal with exuberant gestural features. And in Radiant baby with aids alligator, California. 1984, pop artist Keith Haring offers a primitive chase between life and death. His graffiti, applied to a Bowery metro sign, illustrates how he used his publicly accessible art to advance awareness of the AIDS epidemic.
Many of the works on display are accompanied by commentaries from a variety of New Yorkers sharing their memories and impressions of the places depicted. Local residents, writers, artists, hotel staff, baseball fans, teachers, and tree enthusiasts all reflect on the ever-changing nature of the city and its landmarks. A student at Stuyvesant High School describes the view of the city skyline from her school, for example, while a librarian at the New York Public Library recounts being greeted at work every day by the building’s carved lions, Patience and Fortitude.
An exhibition catalog, comprising 200 color illustrations, will be available for purchase in the NYHistory Store from December 2021. On Monday, November 1, exhibition curator Wendy Ikemoto will lead a special tour of New York Scenes, highlighting new artists to join the New-York Historical collection.