Living in New York sometimes puts a little pressure on me. Though every time I come, I am spending several weeks here, it subconsciously feels like a limited period of time to me.
Basically, I like the normal days best here, as I like them in Basel. Getting up early, doing sports, having breakfast, going to the studio and working. A quick lunch, coffee, get back to work. A short nap or a walk and then work again until 6 or 7 o’clock. Eat something somewhere or go out for a drink and then enjoy the evening at home with a cup of tea and a book. Sounds boring, I know, but it makes me happy, because my work makes me happy and I am so grateful to have reached this point in my life, where work has nothing negative about it anymore.
But since I’m still in New York for a relatively limited time, after a few days there’s always this concern growing, whether I shouldn’t get out of this rut for a while. Enjoy the city, look at something, experience something. That’s what everyone expects, what you do in New York. So I usually do a day outside at the end of the week.
This week, that day took me to the West Village. I walked through the Meatpacking District and went to the Whitney Museum to see the Edward Hopper exhibition. The exhibit was about Hopper’s depictions of New York. I like that loneliness in his paintings that evoke a certain melancholy. The deserted cityscapes in which absolute silence seems to reign. In the photos that I like to take, I also like to have no people and find just this so exciting: views of a big city with 8 million inhabitants, in which there is nothing to be seen of them. The people are so fluttery, interchangeable, restless, noisy, superficial. The architecture, the perspectives, the colors and shapes, the light…it all appeals to me much more. I’m a bit odd, but that’s what defines me. Anyway, I enjoyed the exhibition and during my walk afterwards I took some photos for which I felt inspired by Hopper.
A lot of time this week was spent on rather bureaucratic work again. The fine art print editions of the Birds of Fire Island are now available in the online shop with signature and imprinted edition number, and there have been some price adjustments. The cost I get from the printer – especially for shipping, is too high in my opinion, but I have no way to change that. I try to stay as cheap as possible. The quality of the prints however is really excellent and they are definitely worth the money.
Winter has still not arrived and only made itself felt with two very cold days. Inspired by the snowdrops that now bloom in Riverside Park and by the blue jays and other birds that I sometimes watch in the garden from the kitchen table, I have started to work out sketches that I want to paint in the next few days. In addition to the florals and animals, I’m using doilies that I photographed on walks in the East Village a few years ago when we lived on 26th Street. As a symbol of the free (uncovered by snow) streets and because some remotely remind me of snow crystals.
Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist.
City view from across the river
I was the only one on the public bus looking out the window while we drove back to Manhattan from a trip to New Jersey. Everyone else was looking at their phones or dozing off. For them it was probably just another commuting travel they do on a regular basis. I was literally glued to the window, snapping countless photos every time the view of the city was clear. This was a bit of a challenge, as the bus windows were dirty and the iPhone had trouble focusing out of the moving bus. But in the end, I did end up with a few pictures that satisfied me and showed what made me tick.
The sight of the city fascinates me a lot. From across the Hudson, the skyscrapers look like a collection of geometric figures, and the gleaming towers in the blue evening light reminded me of some science fiction world. Similar to Hopper’s paintings, the whole thing looks like a still life, static, calm, peaceful. The effect on me is similar to having a snow covered mountain range in front of me. The bustle of people, the honking cars, the sirens of ambulances, the flashing of billboards. You can’t imagine any of this from a distance, and then suddenly you’re right in the middle of it when the bus comes out of the tunnel that connects New Jersey with Manhattan. Welcome back to reality.
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Nicely written! Looking forward to the new paintings – they’re looking promising so far.