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Colin Campbell Cooper - Randolph Street, Chicago (1903)

Colin Campbell Cooper - Glass Train Shed, Broad Street Station, Philadelphia (ca. 1910)

As a special treat, for today’s December Double I would like to present two works by Colin Campbell Cooper, ‘Randolph Street, Chicago’ and ‘Broad Street Station, Philadelphia’. Cooper was an American painter who created many wonderful views of New York City and other notable metropolitan areas. He worked in an Impressionist style which he used to render the city’s steam and smoke in a beautiful light. I always enjoy seeing these techniques used for distinctly American views. The murky blue background in 'Glass Train Shed' reminds me of a classic Monet, and ‘Randolph Street’ utilizes a vibrant orange, allowing one building to prominently stand out against the muted grey of the surrounding structures, among them a station serving the city’s famous elevated train line. Both of these paintings capture the atmosphere of the city while exhibiting the artist's unique talent for light and color.

Cooper's works also demonstrate a natural understanding of city spaces. While 'Randolph Street' is rigidly framed within its architectural elements, recalling Canaletto's views of Venice (for which painter utilized the camera obscura), Cooper’s composition in 'Glass Train Shed' is more relaxed, centering the subject while providing room for observation around the centerpiece building. I’m intrigued by all the details included within this painting, particularly the different modes of transport, such as the single car riding on the otherwise empty dirt road alongside the train shed. Works such as this serve as a wonderful capsule of early 20th century life.

Date: 2016-12-02 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Beautiful. One of the places where I lived in Philly was right off Broad Street, not far at all from the location depicted in this painting. It looks quite different now, of course! My sense of direction is bad, but that spire silhouetted in the background of the painting must be City Hall.

Date: 2016-12-03 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think are you right about City Hall! I was actually in Philly last week, though I didn't have much time to explore.

I'm happy the Train Shed painting brought back some memories for you. :) This painter had a wonderful talent for silhouetting buildings against the sky, and his use of color was amazing.
Edited Date: 2016-12-03 02:59 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-12-02 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
that gigantinormous flag pole in Randolph Street is killing me, it slashes the scene like a bar sinister and even taking perspective into account it just seems too long ... it draws the eye too much. Is it just me??

Date: 2016-12-03 02:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like the long pole as a compositional element, but you are correct that it seems too large and actually detracts from the rest of the painting. That's actually a nice little street scene below, however this work keeps its focal area within the upper half, thanks in part to that darn pole!
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