Across the Avenues
Fairfield Porter in New York
February 18–June 16, 2024
Comprised of 27 paintings and prints, Across the Avenues: Fairfield Porter in New York focuses on the cityscapes Porter created of Manhattan between the mid-1940s to mid-1970s. Drawn from the Museum’s vast Porter collection—consisting of over 240 works—Across the Avenues will include 23 paintings and four lithographic prints that illuminate the artist’s ability to capture New York City’s bustling energy, both day and night. Highlighting different moments throughout the day, Porter’s use of varied hues of blue, red, and yellow evoke the early, hazy morning skies above the skyscrapers and the dark, moody night atmospheres.
After occasionally visiting New York during his college years, Porter moved to the city in 1928 and lived on 15th Street while continuing his studies at the Art Students League for two years. After spending time in Europe, he returned stateside in 1932 and married poet Anne Channing, and they called New York City their home until 1936. During these four years, Porter maintained a consistent subject matter of cityscapes in his works—specifically street scenes—which are on view in this permanent collection installation. After spending some years in his hometown Winnetka, IL, he returned to New York in 1943 and remained in the city until 1949 before moving to Southampton, NY. Over the course of Porter’s career, the city endured as one of his main inspirations, in addition to his landscapes and portraits.
This group of cityscapes illustrate the artist’s commitment to representational art and his formal training. Porter had previously studied at Harvard University with Arthur Pope, at Parsons School of Design with Jacques Maroger, and at the Art Students League with Boardman Robinson and Thomas Hart Benton—all during a time when the focus in contemporary art was on abstraction. Despite being criticized by peers and art critics, including famed Clement Greenberg, Porter was unwavering in his devotion to a representational style of his own. This style is on full display with these works, where he explores the city from multiple vantage points—with views from above looking through an apartment windowpane, of the hurried sidewalks during the mid-afternoon rush, and below the noisy avenues on subway platforms.
Across the Avenues: Fairfield Porter in New York is curated by Kaitlin Halloran, Assistant Curator and Publications Coordinator.
The Parrish Art Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.
Author: Klaus Ottmann, Parrish Art Museum Adjunct Curator of the Collection
First published in 2010 by the Parrish Art Museum
96 pages, $29.95