by Alison Perry
Raking light entering through the side window of a local eatery made for a colorful scene as I drove down Main Street one recent afternoon. The creamy pastel tones were so pretty I pulled over to take several exposures, then noticed a lonely dining chair lending an enigmatic tone, which then changed the experience.
Motivated by an intrinsic or extrinsic mindset, windows are vehicles for different artistic expressions. They can be seen as partitions, barriers that separate us from social interaction, the world outside, or their symmetry can provide an opportunity to reconstruct or deconstruct the grid on formal or informal terms.
Edward Hopper and Walker Evans were the first to establish an art genre based in part on the relationship between architecture, windows and the human condition, reflected in images of detachment and alienation, but also in moments of social and cultural activity in urban and rural places. Evan’s windows are impersonal, more of a documentation of manufactured goods, culinary displays, automated America and services rendered during and after the Great Depression. Hopper’s piercingly dark enigmatic windows convey an interior mood. Night depictions of offices, apartments and store front windows go so far as to incorporate a voyeuristic or predatory aspect. The painting: Night Hawks for instance, is a scene through a large diner window with three inhabitants and a counter clerk, but there’s also the sense of an outside predator watching from a distance, the point of which was to establish a mood analogous with events leading up to Pearl Harbor. To further affect a predator-cornered prey sensation, Hopper intentionally left an entry/exit door out of the painting.
Conversely, a lit window can be a homing beacon, a familiar or welcome sight for night travelers, workers and residents of large impersonal urban areas. Thousands of windows take part in the night time aerial cityscape paintings of Yvonne Jacquette. In the painting shown here: Above Times Square, window lights act as beacons to demarcate and distinguish landmark buildings and adjacent structures, but one lit room up high and all alone personalizes the scene.
- Postcard From New York on NyackNewsAndViews
- Panda Garden
- Edward Hopper Art Center: Night Hawks
- Walker Evans: Household Supply Store Window, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Yvonne Jacquette: Above times Square
Alison Perry owns a Nyack-based photography business that combines architecture, landscape and formal space and strives to make personal art about time and place. Imagery is for sale through her website. She received BFA in Studio Art from SUNY Purchase and a graduate degree in Library Science from Long Island University. Previously, she worked in journalistic and editorial photography for several different national/regional newspapers in NYC, PA and CA. See examples of her work at AlisonPerryArt.com