Picturing New York: The Art of Yvonne Jacquette and Rudy Burckhardt

“… Over the course of his career he figured out a way to make the city’s architecture fit the human scale he favored. Faced with the same choice, [Rudy] Burckhardt’s wife of 40 years, the painter Yvonne Jacquette, opted to focus on the city’s skyscrapers. Opening Friday, ‘Picturing New York: The Art of Yvonne Jacquette and Rudy Burckhardt’ displays photographs by Burckhardt, who died at 85 in 1999, alongside paintings by Ms. Jacquette, 20 years his junior, who is still working. Burckhardt’s black-and-white photographs approach the city from several angles, descending from rooftops to street level and even into the subways. Ms. Jacquette’s paintings peer down into the canyons between high-rises. This pair of shows does not establish either artist as an unjustly overlooked talent, but it reveals the competing visions of the city behind a romantic and creative partnership. … A large percentage of the Burckhardt photographs on view were taken in the 1930s and ’40s, while Ms. Jacquette’s paintings date from the ’80s through last year. The couple married in 1964 and became part of a close network of creative types, including Willem de Kooning and Alex Katz, who lived and worked in Chelsea, then an industrial section. Both appear in Mr. Katz’s scene-defining painting ‘The Cocktail Party’ from 1965. Burckhardt, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1935, is difficult to classify within the tradition of New York street photography. He was an impatient photographer, taking few exposures even when shooting stationary subjects, and a careless printer who allowed his negatives to become scratched. Photography was not his only medium; he also painted and made short, lyrical 16-millimeter films of the city. His early work has been compared to that of Walker Evans and Berenice Abbott, though without the social or historical conscience. … His photographs also register as the work of an outsider. Burckhardt’s most famous pictures, views of Astor Place and the Flatiron Building taken from rooftops, focus on the few places in the city where the street grid is broken. New York landmarks become European boulevards. Another well-known photograph shows the Midtown skyline from the vantage point of a rail yard in Astoria, Queens. …”
NY Times: Views of the City, His and Hers, With Lens and Brush
artnet: Lyrical New York by Ilka Scobie

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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