Monday, June 23, 2014

Vermeer, "The Little Street," c. 1658

Standing in front of this Vermeer ("The Little Street," 1658), I immediately thought of the Edward Hopper image, "Early Sunday Morning" (1930), a painting I saw at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, just after the New York Times called to ask me to write a piece in reaction to the steam pipe explosion in midtown Manhattan, which killed a pedestrian.  I had about 24 hours to write the piece for the Sunday edition.  I came across Hopper's still and serene image of old storefronts on Seventh Avenue, with their sense of quiet and serenity, and also desperate emptiness caused by the Great Depression, and found a way to incorporate it into the piece.

The Vermeer is much less disturbing because of the people engaged in their solitary activities.  But if you look closely, you'll see that the building is rendered in great detail while the people are abstracted. The city is in control here. the stage set for human action.  It will persist, accommodating generations of people and their lives.

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