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Image of Painting sketch No. 2 - New York

Louis Lozowick , (Dec 10, 1892–Sep 9, 1973)

Painting sketch No. 2 - New York

1922
20 5/8 in. x 15 3/4 in. (52.39 cm x 40.01 cm)

Medium and Support: oil on canvas
Credit Line: gift of Jacob and Ruth Kainen
Accession Number: 2010.106

Commentary

Best known for his lithographic depictions of New York cityscapes, with their dazzling play between light and shade, Louis Lozowick most likely painted this oil sketch of the Manhattan skyline from memory, while still on his extended European sojourn.
The fusion of known elements such as what resembles the Brooklyn Bridge in the left half of the foreground with a westward view of skyscrapers in Manhattan’s Financial District results in a topographically surreal composition, a perspective that, in reality, could not have been gained from any vantage point.

Ukrainian-born American modernist artist Louis Lozowick (1892-1973) immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of fourteen, but returned to Europe in 1920 to acquaint himself with the burst of artistic movements occurring in France, Germany, and Russia. After spending two years in Paris, where he became immersed in the Montparnasse café scene and met artists such as Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, and Marc Chagall, among many others, in 1922 Lozowick moved to Berlin, where he joined the circles of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky; that summer he also traveled to Russia, where he met Kasimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin, and other members of the Russian avant garde.

Lozowick’s exposure to technological imagery, industrial principles, and machine aesthetics, in general, and Constructivism, in particular, during his time in Europe and Russia are frequently credited as the most significant influences on his artistic practice; and his choice of skyscrapers and elevated train tracks undoubtedly resulted from such influences. Yet, in this early cityscape, his use of brilliant color in a painterly manner—deep orange to capture the warmth of the bright sky, cobalt blue to capture the cool shadows beneath the elevated train tracks—evokes the style of Henri Matisse, who, despite having left Paris by the time Lozowick arrived, would still have been an important figure among the Montparnasse art circle of the early 1920s.

The intense contrast between light and shade in this vibrant color scheme foreshadows the dazzling contrast between light and shade in his later lithographic renderings of New York’s urban wonders, as exemplified by his 1926 print, Checkerboard [Under The El], which shows a street view from below elevated train tracks with the sunlight beaming through.

Kelley Tialiou
Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Assistant | Librarian | Archivist

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