Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - Henry Hudson Bridge Substructure, P.M.

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Image of Henry Hudson Bridge Substructure, P.M.

Rackstraw Downes , b. 1939

Henry Hudson Bridge Substructure, P.M.

39 in. x 32 in. (99.06 cm x 81.28 cm)

Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Purchased as the gift of the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust
Accession Number: 2009.73


Painting from direct observation, realist painter Rackstraw Downes records the same location at different times of day in the two oil paintings Henry Hudson Bridge Substructure, A.M. and Henry Hudson Bridge Substructure, P.M. Downes’s diptych is an intense study of changing light and offers a unique perspective of the normally unseen substructure of one of New York City most iconic bridges.

Before he begins a painting, the artist draws on site to determine the most noteworthy view and then returns multiple times to paint when light and weather match the conditions. In a 2006 interview, Downes said, “One of the things about landscape is that the weight is usually on the ground. The top of the painting is usually sky, all airy and light, not much solid up there—clouds are fleecy and vaporous. So it interests me to reverse this situation and put the weight on top. One good way to do that is to stand under a bridge.”

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