There are special moments that happen when walking through the streets of New York City—moments where your gaze is drawn upward to the unimaginable heights of the buildings that make up the city’s iconic skyline. If you pause for too long, you chance obstructing the natural flow of the busy sidewalks and inducing exasperations from your fellow pedestrians. Avoid the urban currents with a trip to the Hudson River Museum, where Industrial Sublime: Modernism and the Transformation of New York’s Rivers, 1900 –1940 provides audiences with some of the best views that bear witness to New York City’s transformation into the industrial capital of the country. Today, one glance toward the sky offers a mesmerizing glimpse at the final products of what can only be described as incredible feats of architecture. With a visit to Industrial Sublime, audiences will be transported back the period when the buildings we see today were first being erected, back to when the city began to really boom as industrialization swept the nation.
Over sixty works in this American art exhibition are displayed to highlight an aesthetic concept that bridges a gap between the Hudson River School and American modernism: the sublime. Awestruck by the natural beauty of the American landscape, nineteenth-century painters drew their inspiration directly from the magnificent vistas and unexplored terrain, and paintings by Thomas Cole helped launch the beginning of the first true movement in American art: the Hudson River School. Industrial Sublime features impressive works by Ashcan artists Robert Henri, George Bellows and John Sloan, along with pieces by modernist painters Georgia O’Keeffe and Leon Kroll that emphasize the continuity of the Hudson River School’s sublime as it carried over into twentieth-century American painting. Instead of observing the epic mountains and glowing skies preferred by early landscape painters, experience how these American modernists began to focus on a new type of American landscape—one that offered stunning views of immense factories, towering bridges, and streamlined ocean liners decorating Manhattan’s waterfronts as America progressed into the Machine Age.
Industrial Sublime highlights the enduring nature of an American tradition in painting—awe-inspiring scenes—while laying an emphasis on the unique shifts in artistic approach that occurred during the decades following the turn of the century. This exhibition is on view through January 17, 2014, be sure to stop in and savor these remarkable images of New York City.