figureworks pretzel vendor

Williamsburg Galleries host a Frieze AfterParty this Friday, May 10th from 7-10PM.

Showing at Figureworks:


April 27 – June 9, 2013

Regular hours: Saturday and Sunday from 1-6 PM or by appointment

New York City has always been the great cultural melting pot and in 1905, for the first time in American history, more than one million immigrants arrived in the United States, primarily through Ellis Island. The challenges New Yorkers would face over these years, with World War I and social issues that included civil rights and job strikes, helped shape them into one of the nation’s most resilient people, making the Empire City an even more attractive destination.

The office and housing solution to this rapid urban growth came through new buildings expanding upward rather than outward. New technologies and innovations, such as steel framing, concrete, and elevators, played a major role in this new construction. In America’s preeminent city of the twentieth century, the New York skyscraper became a symbol of America’s modernity.

Iconic buildings such as the Flatiron were followed by the Singer Tower, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, the Municipal Building and the 792-foot (57 story) Woolworth Building, completed in 1913 to became the tallest building in lower Manhattan at the time. Though these skyscrapers were commercial successes, criticism mounted as they broke up the ordered city skyline and plunged neighboring streets and buildings into perpetual shadow.

Artists were fascinated by the growth and rapid change of NYC. Etchers Joseph Pennell, Karl Dehmann, and Anton Schutz painstakingly detailed these rising towers and, in reference to their majestic height, peppered the foundations with bustling figures. It not only scaled the magnitude of these structures but also served to humble the human existence among them. Other artists, like Jerome Myers, chose to highlight the overworked and underpaid work force that kept this city fueled. Hermann Struck’s etchings, from his visit to New York in the early 1900’s, captured aged pretzel vendors and paperboys working the streets for a meager living.

This exhibition highlights a handful of these prominent artists who’s works on paper, created roughly 100 years ago, honor the energy and excitement of the ever changing New York City skyline with the unique and creative people who made this city so remarkable.

Figureworks is located at 168 North 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211, one block from the Bedford Avenue “L” train. The gallery is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 1-6 PM and is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary and 20th century fine art of the human form.