Richard Estes (1932-)
Oil on linen
Overall: 48 1/8 × 60 in. (122.2 × 152.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from Frances and Sydney Lewis
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
This painting depicts one of Richard Estes’ favorite landmarks, the Beaux Arts Ansonia building near his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, here seen from about West 69th Street and Broadway looking north. The extraordinary detail and precision of the painting has led many to mistake it at first glance for a color photograph. Yet unlike a camera or the human eye, Ansonia depicts every detail in precise focus. And while the stone column functions as an axis on which the two sides of the painting hinge, creating a rough symmetry, Estes throws the composition off balance by taking small pictorial liberties that are revealed in the reflection of the glass window. The Ansonia is absent in the reflection, a Visa card sticker obscures the McDonald’s, and the colors have become slightly warmer. With the exception of a single figure, mostly obscured by shrubbery and a bus that seems stopped indefinitely at a red light, the painting includes very few signs of life—a near impossibility in daytime Manhattan.