Jack Lorimer Gray - The Battery: Demolition of the Old Produce Exchange Building (1957)
Louis Charles Vogt - The Building of the C&O Railroad Bridge, Cincinnati, OH (n.d.)
Although I can always appreciate an attractive, well-executed representation of a newly completed building or facility--usually commissioned by the owner for commercial purposes--I'm much more interested in works that show such structures under construction or during a state of demolition. To me these works signify progress and transformation as the city adapts to serve the needs of community and industry, rather than simply presenting another shining product for the public to consume. A lot of hard work went into planning, building and levelling these structures, and I find it endearing that an artist committed these scenes to canvas, especially at a time when a photograph would've easily sufficed.
Today I present 'The Battery: Demolition of the Old Produce Exchange' by Canadian painter Jack Lorimer Gray and 'The Building of the C&O Railroad Bridge, Cincinnati, OH' by American painter Louis Charles Vogt.
Though Grey lived in New York City for nearly 9 years, his 'The Battery' seems to be one of his few available paintings of the actual city. An accomplished painter of Maine scenes, I presume his ambition with this work was to paint Upper New York Bay, second to the Battery itself and then the Produce Exchange at the bottom. I love his view over the tower in the foreground, exposing the severe damage to the rooftop, which provides a real sense the age and deterioration taking place around the city, validating the need for demolition and reconstruction.
'C&O Railroad Bridge' takes different approach. Known for his numerous pasture scenes, Vogt applies his style to this industrial setting with interesting results, using brushwork which one might associate with the Impressionists. I really like the play of light within those tiny fires and clouds of smoke, as well as the muted colors, effectively capturing the smog of this busy construction site.