New York, No. 1

Hedda Sterne1954

The Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art


  • Title: New York, No. 1
  • Creator: Hedda Sterne
  • Date Created: 1954
  • Location Created: North America
  • Physical Dimensions: w1273 x h2190 cm (Complete)
  • Catalogue entry: The unmistakable shape of the Brooklyn Bridge dominates this powerful meditation on New York City. Hedda Sterne, notably known now as the sole woman in the famous 1950 photograph published in Life magazine of "The Irascibles" (the nascent Abstract Expressionist group of painters), is worthy of being more than a footnote to the famous (and infamous) male "Action Painters." New York No. 1 waivers between abstraction and representation, and Sterne uses the bold, painterly strokes of black and blue-gray to convey actual New York landmarks as well as the dynamic, kinetic, and dominating feeling of this intensely urban environment. New York No. 1 is part of a series of paintings Sterne completed around 1954 exploring different aspects of the city. Sterne places the hard, harsh lines of the Brooklyn Bridge in the lower half of the painting, thrusting into the viewer's space. Above, however, the shapes are less defined, and a skyline of sorts is only dimly and intermittently visible through the soft grayish haze. By composing the painting in this way, Sterne plays with multiple painting traditions, both new and old. She has created a work that is both a reference to cityscapes such as the Museum's 1909 George Bellows painting, Bridge, Blackwell's Island (1912.506), and to contemporaries like Willem de Kooning who were referencing the natural world, yet creating works of pure abstraction, such as Lily Pond (1972.32) .
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Museum Purchase
  • External Link: http://classes.toledomuseum.org:8080/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/123/13
  • Medium: Oil on canvas


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